Citation: Zarko. "A Very Eerie Sensation of Uncertainty: An Experience with Toluene (exp115360)". Erowid.org. Apr 16, 2021. erowid.org/exp/115360
Our understanding of the literature is that there is no such thing as safe recreational use of volatile solvents, aerosols and other street inhalants : their psychoactive effects are inseparable from nerve and organ damage. We have chosen to include these reports to help document the real world use of inhalants, but their inclusion is not intended to imply that they are anything but dangerous.]
So I was never very interested in inhalants. I didn't really do any drugs before this so it was more of an experiment. As chemistry is a hobby of mine, I had various solvents around the working space (chloroform/toluene/xylene/ethanol/methanol etc, the usual stuff a hobby chemist has).
So I've been sitting in my chair one day, thinking about what I read one or two weeks prior, and going from memory to memory toluene piqued my interest. There were mixed feelings: some said it'll screw with your head so badly you won't even know what hit you, others said it was more of a auditory hallucination-fest. Anyhow, I had pretty pure toluene so I wanted to give it a shot as well. Hooo boy was I in for an unique experience.
Again, keep in mind that I didn't do any drugs before. Hell, even to this day I don't even smoke or drink. The only thing I've done before was to take a few whiffs of some chloroform I made, but that was nothing special, more of a light headedness coupled with a huge hangover the following day.
So I took a small vial, 15-20 mL capacity, and filled it three quarters with toluene. I go back to my room, open the window as it was a pretty chilly atmosphere outside and I wanted to let some fresh air in, open the vial, place my nostril near the top of the vial and inhale. I made sure not to get any liquid toluene in my nose. Three or four whiffs later, nothing much happened. I keep taking two-three whiffs at a time with regular breathing in-between and out of a sudden it dawns on me: I have parquet flooring and when I look down at it the individual wooden slices/pieces start pulsating towards me a little and I start seeing the individual outlines and contour of each swirl the wood has.
I drink half a glass of water and take another 5-6 whiffs from the vial. Shortly but surely I start hearing a repetitive, and very strange I might add, sound coming from outside. It was pretty late at night so, despite having a few houses being constructed nearby, the sound wasn't coming from the construction site. It was more of a highly pitched electronic sound that was pulsating back and forth, similar to the Doppler effect. Sound increasing in intensity, passing right next to me, going quiet and then the whole process repeating. This lasted for about 5 minutes and I knew it was time to stop for the day. I chewed some gum to get rid of the lingering toluene taste in my mouth, stayed up for 20-30 more minutes and called it a night.
Next morning I felt a little dizzy and a tad tired, but nothing special. My arm muscles were aching a bit now that I think about it. Having some free time, I opened up some games and start playing on the PC with Discord running in the background. I decided to give toluene another try now that I was rested. So I open the vial again, take another few whiffs with breathing in-between, the exact same procedure as one night prior. After I felt I was sufficiently dizzy I started playing some online game and holy crap was I not expecting to be hit so hard in only a couple minutes. I could barely focus on the game and I started laughing for the stupidest reasons.
I glanced at Discord for a little while and I had the most bizarre reaction ever in my life. There was a pretty heated discussion going on about various in-game mechanics and items and I had the strangest feeling of déjà vu.
I had the strangest feeling of déjà vu.
I had the impression that absolutely every single message that was being typed in the chat was already familiar and known to me. Anyhow, this sensation lasted for the better part of the day, even after stopping whiffing from the toluene vial. I even went as far as going in the message history to see if the messages that I thought were so familiar have been typed before. Obviously not and the whole déjà vu was just in my head, but man was it strange.
In the end, I was left with a very eerie sensation of uncertainty combined with a general state of tiredness and dizziness. Not really an afterglow, but more of a confused... neutral state, like somebody just woke me up from a deep dreamless sleep. I had trouble focusing for around 1 hour after the entire experience but that was it.
In conclusion, it was interesting as an experience. Doing it twice in a row allowed me to experience two completely different sensations that were influenced solely by what my activity at the time was. Was it memorable? Yeah, I guess. Would I repeat it? Well... not really. It was fun and I felt completely stoned at the peak of the experience with sound and slight visual distortions, but I would rather try something else now. I wouldn't continue using inhalants whatsoever, I know I tried to take all the necessary precautions, but there's always a risk of going overboard and potentially fainting due to a lack of fresh air and even more serious stuff happening.
I know I have self-control. Others have said that toluene is addictive from the first use, I personally, apart from the second usage the next day, didn't have any reason or urge to use it anymore. It was just an interesting experience, but I am not going to repeat it for a while, if ever. The health risks and the damage it does over time are too much of a downside for me. I just wouldn't feel comfortable knowing that if I'd use it it would permanently damage my health with long-term use.
Also, for the love of god, check the MSDS of the product you are taking your toluene from. Some paint thinners (the main source of toluene for many, also for me-I use it for hobbies like dioramas and as a solvent for various organic stuff) also contain methanol, you can imagine how harmful THAT is. Imagine going to bed completely stoned and waking up blind. Read, read, read. Take all the safety precautions before using anything. And don't go running the day after using toluene. All my muscles hurt for a few good hours one day after using it and it's not pleasant to run with a monster muscle ache.
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