Heroin is considered the most lethal drug of the narcotic world. If the police and the movies are to be believed, it will inevitably lead you down a path of crime and collapsed veins until you ultimately overdose alone in a squat.
Nobody ever said heroin can’t be incredibly dangerous, particularly when it’s bought off the street and cut with a deadly cocktail of rat poison, ground glass and toxic chemicals. But there’s a whole world of ways to chemically inconvenience yourself out there, from messed-up street drugs to unlicensed research chemicals.
Everyone knows that shooting up heroin isn’t particularly good for you, but these psychoactive monstrosities all have a track record that would make anyone think twice before sniffing them, inhaling them or injecting them into the body.
What’s even worse is than crack cocaine is “paco”, the crude crack substitute which is all that many addicts in the slums of South American mega-cities can get their hands on. The cost of a single hit was as low as 10p just a couple of years ago, though the price is now creeping up as cartels previously focussed on shipping coke abroad sniff a business opportunity. Paco is made from the waste products of mass cocaine production. Its users are known colloquially as ‘the living dead’.
The basic recipe is simple; take some raw cocaine base and cut it with glue, crushed glass, rat poison and any number of other chemicals. Like any street drug, paco exists in a variety of forms and under a variety of pseudonyms. One of the most telling is its Chilean nickname of cocaína de los pobres, or poor man’s cocaine. Other people simply call it angustia– ‘anguish’.
Similar to paco, “oxi” is another variation on the tried-and-tested formula of crack cocaine with lots of nasty extras thrown in for good measure. Oxi is a Brazilian concoction in which cocaine paste is combined with petrol and quicklime to create a deeply addictive, dirt-cheap hit.
The boundaries between oxi and paco are blurry, and there is no consistency in the make-up of either drug. Each is a way of monetising cocaine too impure to be exported to the Western market by cooking it up with a selection of toxic substances, stuffing it into pipes made of discarded tin cans and selling it to impoverished local addicts.
Inhalant abuse known as ‘huffing’ doesn’t offer the same high as heroin but is nonetheless exceptionally dangerous. Beloved of bored youth in suburban towns, huffing entails inhaling computer duster, aerosol spray, contact cement and other unlikely substances. The high is much like a laughing-gas high, then it works by cutting off the flow of oxygen to your brain.
Almost everywhere online reports there is “no safe way” to participate in this monumentally stupid activity, whose “psychoactive effects are inseparable from nerve and organ damage”.