Citation: chancetwister. "Neon Static: A Night I Won't Soon Forget: An Experience with JWH-018 (exp90179)". Erowid.org. Jun 2, 2011. erowid.org/exp/90179
||(powder / crystals)
I have a story to tell. It’s long and it’s thorough, but it needs to be told. It has to deal with the most bizarre and terrifying semi-psychotic reaction to any chemical I have yet ingested, and it happened while taking gravity bong hits of the synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-018. This experience took place a few months before I began writing this report, so a handful of details may be lost in time, but I remember the experience itself quite vividly and will do my best to reconstruct it moment to moment.
First, a little about myself. I am a nineteen-year-old male college student, 6’ 1” and 155 pounds. I am no novice when it comes to substances of various shapes and sizes, having had experiences with bud, alcohol, LSD, LSA, mescaline (peyote and San Pedro), 2C-B, 2C-C, MDMA, Methylone, Salvia, DXM, various pills (painkillers, benzos, stimulants, the whole gamut), and probably a few others that I can’t recall at the moment. I’m no stranger to tripping, rolling, and generally being out of my mind. And yet nothing I have undergone thus far has been crazier or more singularly peculiar than my night with JWH.
I’ll start at the beginning. It was a fairly cold Friday afternoon in early December, and having nothing to do I was naturally looking for some weed to smoke. I had a small amount of shake left at the bottom of the bag, but it wasn’t even enough for a full bowl, so I called my friend “Marlowe” to see if he had any and would be willing to share. He didn’t have any marijuana, but told me he bought two grams of some new research chemical (JWH-018) that reportedly reproduced the effects of weed when smoked and that he wanted me to try it out. Always willing to try anything once, I agreed and walked over to his apartment.
Our mutual friend “Immanuel” was already at Marlowe’s, and the three of us proceeded to smoke a cigarette or two, unwind a bit, and inspect the JWH-018. It was an off-white powder that looked relatively harmless, so I assented to a hit or two and we loaded up some of the drug onto a folded piece of aluminum foil. Now I had never smoked anything off of foil before (at least not the method Marlowe was using), so Immanuel lit the foil from underneath while I held the contraption and sucked the smoke through a straw. I fucked it up once or twice before I got a good, solid hit, and immediately noticed a familiar, bud-like wave of relaxation wash over me. It was nearly identical to a marijuana high, though I noticed it was less body-oriented—it was “heady,” like smoking fine sativa, but somehow different. I’m having trouble putting this difference into words, but it was profound and evident while under the influence. I also noticed that the duration of effects was considerably shorter than marijuana’s. We left to get food almost immediately after smoking, and in the time it took to walk from Marlowe’s apartment to McDonald’s, finish smoking my cigarette, and get food (perhaps twenty minutes total) I had returned to baseline.
Either way, Immanuel left and Marlowe and I attended a meeting for our fraternity. This meeting lasted a long time, much longer than usual, and afterwards I went back to my dorm and took a half-hour nap.
I awoke feeling relaxed and rested, ready to go anywhere the night took me. I was generally in a positive mindset, which makes the coming events that much more confounding. Anyway, I called Marlowe again, to see what he was up to. He was in the room of another friend of ours, “Wesley,” and was taking gravity bong rips of JWH out of Wesley’s waterfall. I figured this sounded like fun, feeling as though I didn’t get to experience this novel substance in full, so I headed over to see what was going on. Besides Wesley and Marlowe, Wesley’s two roommates, “Pauly” and “Thaddeus,” were over and were sharing in the RC goodness. Pauly is a friend of mine, another brother in my frat, but I had never met Thaddeus before and naturally felt a small sense of discomfort around him (as is normal for me around unfamiliar people). Not to say he isn’t a good person, I have since talked to him a few more times and I feel more comfortable around him, but it’s a natural reaction I have to new people. But I digress. The four of them told me about a party they were all attending later that night, and I agreed to come with them; I was excited for it, actually, as it was going to be a big party and I hadn’t really raged in a few weeks. I was delighted at the prospect of letting go of some of the stress of the past few days.
The four of them were already pretty high by the time I got there, so we relaxed and watched some television for a half hour or so before it was time for another round of grav hits. They offered me some bud, but I turned it down to try, for the second time that day, pure JWH. Marlowe rolled me up a heroic dose of the powder in a piece of tissue paper, stuck the resulting little ball of pseudo-THC in the head of the waterfall, and pulled me down a massive hit. I sucked in the grey smoke (it tasted awful, like chemical soup, but didn’t burn too much on the way down) and held it in for as long as I could. Before I even blew the hit out, the same feeling of marijuana-like relaxation washed over me, but this time it was accompanied by an odd and inexplicable wave of panic. Panic being out of character for me, I dismissed this rising feeling of doom as nothing, and it disappeared as a rather pleasant high set in. It was exactly like weed except for that “headiness” I described before, and a strange spaciness that came with it -- I found I couldn’t really follow the conversation the others were having and my thoughts seemed disarrayed and disorganized (even more so than with bud). But this didn’t perturb me either, and the others took their hits and we exited the bathroom.
At this point I was absolutely fine. We were watching ESPN, something about football, but I wasn’t really paying any attention to it. It was about twenty minutes after we left the bathroom that I noticed that something was amiss. It had been an ample amount of time since I took my hit, but I hadn’t peaked yet -- the high was still growing and growing in an odd and menacing way. Increasingly nothing around me was making any sense: the television program, the conversation the others were having, the very nature of what was happening around me. I was quickly realizing that I was way too high, much higher than I should’ve been off of one hit. The world became bathed in an eerie neon static, not unlike the first stages of a powerful LSD or mescaline trip, and I knew I was in for something I didn’t expect.
I distinctly remember I was looking at a box of Fruit Loops on Wesley’s table, when suddenly reality as I knew it ceased to exist. It simply ceased to be reality, but became a mirror image of reality, in which everything around me was the same as it was before, but infinitely more surreal. I cried out in alarm and tried to express what was happening to my friends, but the words came out garbled and nonsensical, as if my mouth suddenly had a life of its own free of my brain. I tried to calm myself down, tell myself I had ingested a psychedelic and that it would end soon, but as my rational self simply dissolved into nothingness I found it harder and harder to relax. And then, all at once, I completely lost touch with existence.
I went through a series of remarkably vivid “dreams,” hundreds of them, many of them terrifying. I can’t recall them all now, but I can remember some of the most realistic. I was a box with a top hat and tentacles that couldn’t stop dancing. I was myself, though I couldn’t control my body, and I raped and murdered hundreds of innocents. I was a knight killing children during the Crusades. I relived various times of my life but seen through the eyes of other people: I was the principal handing myself a diploma at graduation, thinking, “this kid will fail in life,” I was the cop chasing my fourteen-year-old self, I was the doctor operating on my own kidney when I was eighteen. At times I would fade back into reality (sort of), and realize I couldn’t remember who I was, where I was, or who the people I was with were. At these times, I would have bizarre visual hallucinations, like my arms being broken and twisted in five or six places or the bed underneath me growing and pushing me into to the ceiling. Once I awoke to find myself rolling on the floor of Wesley’s room, but when Pauly tried to help me up I was convinced he was trying to steal my immortal soul and pushed him away. My mind was bent beyond comparison, and I was sure that I had done it this time -- I would spend the rest of my life in a mental ward, regretting daily the moment I decided to smoke this God-awful substance.
The most pronounced and ultimately most unnerving aspect of this “trip” (though it was unlike any trip I’ve ever experienced, save perhaps for Salvia) was the crushing sense of loneliness I felt throughout. I saw myself as a single, dim light in a vast void. I was the only one of my kind, and everyone else around me either didn’t have the capacity to understand me, or even worse, chose not to understand me. I was alone in the universe, just a sad, pathetic leaf floating in the ocean. Oddly enough, when we discussed this incident later, Marlowe echoed this sentiment. After going through the entire two grams of this substance in a matter of months, he noted that JWH produces feelings of aloneness in him too, but while my loneliness was overwhelmingly negative, his was always positive -- a pleasant solitude more than anything else.
An eternity later (though it was actually more like an hour and a half), I felt myself starting to return to the earth. Marlowe asked me how I was doing, and I managed to reply with something along the lines of, “I’m fine, I just need a fucking cigarette” and it actually came out unjumbled. After a trial-and-error session of figuring out how my legs work again, I managed to stand up and stumble outside with the rest of them to smoke a butt. They offered to take me to the party (which of course I had entirely forgotten about) but I declined. I was in no shape, mentally or physically, to be around a large group of other people, and I especially couldn’t handle a sizeable amount of alcohol in my system. So, I half-walked, half-dragged myself the two blocks until I got home, and passed out on my bed.
I saw Marlowe and Wesley again the next day, and they tried their best to describe what it looked like on their end. Apparently I simply lost all ability to speak and started freaking out incoherently for an extended period of time. They tried to communicate with me, but failing that just tried to get me to lie down on the bed. I couldn’t figure out how to do that, though, and had what appeared to be a mild seizure in attempting to lie down. Marlowe said it was “the craziest shit I have ever seen. And I mean the CRAZIEST,” and I feel like he’s seen some pretty crazy shit. Wesley told me I was rolling around like a monkey for part of it. Either way, they both expressed concern for my well being and seemed happy that I had rejoined reality.
Two things about the aftereffects of that experience strike me, in retrospect. First, I slept about twelve hours that night and woke up with a MASSIVE hangover. Worse than the hangover one has after a night of hard drinking. I had a terrible headache, nausea, and mild sensitivity to light and sound upon awaking that lasted through most of the next day. Second, for about five days after the experience I went through a serious wave of depression. I couldn’t muster up enough energy to go to most of my classes or do anything, really. It got to the point that I was considering seeking psychiatric help for this depression because it was such a brutal low (I never went through with seeking that help, though, and now I’m perfectly fine).
I don’t think this substance is inherently bad in any way, I think I just either took too much of a dose or had some unique neurochemical reaction to JWH-018, or some combination of the two. When one has a bad trip, it’s not the fault of the psychedelic; the psychedelic merely brings out already existing emotions and problems and makes them painfully clear to the user. My trip was like taking a hefty dose of acid on top of a 103 fever, and its intensity and unexpectedness indubitably led to my freak out. I have tried JWH again once or twice after this experience, in much lower doses, and found it to be quite pleasant, though very “weird”; even at low doses, things that are perfectly normal just sort of cease to make sense. Let this experience be a warning to those who want to fuck with research chemicals -- be prepared for the unexpected, because if not, you could be trapped in a hellish mind-loop that lasts for centuries.
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