This section covers various activities, methods, etc., that, according to current and former DXM users, enhance the DXM experience. Some readers may wonder about the appopriateness of this section, given that I do try to discourage DXM abuse. Let me respond to any potential objections by saying that I believe that safe, responsible use of DXM is possible and should be encouraged. I believe that some people will do psychedelics whether one wants them to or not, so it's better to give everyone the opportunity to have a safe and rewarding experience.
Let me go even further out onto the thin ice here and state that I believe that all psychedelics have a place in exploration of spirituality and consciousness, when used by mature and responsible individuals. Most Western cultures shun the psychedelic experience, and I believe this is unfortunate. While I don't think psychedelics will give you special abilities, they do allow you to tap into abilities that you didn't know you had. The key is to remember that they are only tools and should be used as a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves.
Okay, I've babbled long enough. Here are some suggestions from DXM users on rewarding activities to combine with DXM.
The best advice I can pass along to you about enjoying DXM is not to overdo it. Overusing any psychedelic will transform the magickal into the mundane. Don't try to repeat a given trip, or to hold on to something that happened before; trip experiences, like lovers, are always lacking when revisited.
Additionally, you must be emotionally and mentally prepared for DXM. No drug can give you what you don't already have inside yourself, and if you are lacking in worldly experience, your psychedelic experiences may seem hollow and stereotypical. I know we live in a culture of instant gratification, but the old saying does hold true with psychedelics: good things come to those who wait.
Try to give some thought to why you are taking DXM. Perhaps it is for self-exploration, as a group experience, to immerse yourself in a natural (or unnatural) environment, or simply to gain a new perspective on something. Whatever the reason, make sure you have one; if you just want a "buzz", go to Amsterdam and smoke marijuana. Psychedelics should be used with respect and reverence for what they show us.
I know not everyone is going to follow this advice, and, well, that's your choice. Perhaps for you, psychedelics can be used casually or even daily. Not everyone is wired the same. Just be careful, please. Insanity isn't nearly as fun as it is portrayed.
This section lists some things that various people have done on DXM that they have enjoyed. Note that not everyone will agree, and some of these activities may be unpleasant to some. Activities that are pleasant at one dosage may not be so at another.
Probably the most common fun thing to do on DXM, especially at lower doses, is listen to music. Even at higher doses, music can be quite enjoyable, and will often induce fantastic closed-eye visions and hallucinations. Many people have in fact reported they were unable to hallucinate without music. Some use music to help create an imaginary setting for their hallucinatory experiences. Why music enhances the DXM experience so much, I don't know; other dissociatives don't seem to go nearly as well with music.
As for what music is best, that's a matter of personal opinion. Some prefer classical music, saying it brings a transcendent feeling and visions of flight. Rave and techno music are also popular, possibly because of the strong, regular beat. Ambient seems popular, especially towards the end of DXM trips, where it has a soothing effect. Really, though, a lot has to do with what you like.
Many people enjoy watching movies on DXM, typically at first to upper second plateau levels (beyond that it becomes difficult to process visual information). It seems that some types of movies lend themselves particularly well to DXM, and when viewed, the DXM user finds himself or herself totally immersed in the movie environment, up to the point of perceiving the smells and tastes of that environment, and empathizing with the characters. DXM can transform a movie from something you watch to something you experience directly.
Movies which go well with DXM typically have simple plots but can have very complex environments. Sometimes the best DXM movies have no plot at all (e.g., Koyaanisqatsi, which is a series of montages and images which form a coherent, simple, and in some ways disturbingly beautiful theme). Movies that are highly archetypical in nature (such as Excalibur, as well as many Westerns) also go well with DXM. One person reported that old B-movie Sci-Fi thrillers, horror flicks, and the like also go well with DXM and become much more fun.
One final word of advice. Since DXM impairs the ability to form long-term memories, expect to be horribly confused unless you've seen the movie before. So if you want to watch a movie on DXM, it might be a good idea to watch it sober a day or two before, and give your mind time to become familiar with the plot.
Recently someone pointed out to me that, like other psychedelics, DXM lends itself well to making music. Now, keep in mind that the music may not sound like much to anyone else; I suspect that psychedelic music-making is a type of feedback loop by which unconscious thoughts and impulses can be brought into the conscious mind. Whatever the reason, it does seem to be enjoyable to many.
Many people enjoy dancing on DXM, usually at the first plateau and somewhat less commonly on the second. Third and fourth plateau doses of DXM are almost certainly not compatible with dancing (or most other motor skills). Raves are the most common DXM dancing event, although I see no reason why any other type of dance couldn't be enjoyable as well.
Please note that, as with any dissociative anesthetic, DXM can make you less aware of overexertion, leaving you with a generally sore body the next day. Also, as with any stimulant, take care not to overheat or become dehydrated.
A few users have reported that swimming on a first plateau DXM trip is an ecstatic experience. Evidently, the regular, rhythmic motions of lap swimming go well with DXM's rhythmic nature, and the feeling of the water supporting the body provides a deep sense of calm. There should be little danger with swimming on a first plateau DXM dose, although higher doses could become quite dangerous. Overexertion is always a possibility, but fortunately swimming's low-impact nature may minimize some potential injuries. In any case, if you do decide to try swimming on DXM, never swim alone.
One of the characteristics of the NMDA/sigma class of psychedelics is the ability of people tripping together to synchronize their experiences as they discuss them. This is not unique to DXM; ketamine users have noted the same effect, and although I have no reports I'm certain PCP would act similarly.
Group use of DXM was fairly common among some members of the hardcore warehouse subculture in the 1980's in the USA. People would decide on a "destination" or goal for their trips (which some called "vacations"), and choose music, decorations, and other stimuli to match the destination. Destinations ranged from the specific to the mythological (e.g., Hell). Talking during the trip helped maintain synchronization. Most of the time, the environment (sights, sounds, smells, etc.) was carefully crafted to fit the destination.
If you are planning a group DXM trip, it might be a good idea to make sure that everyone is experienced with DXM beforehand, so that they know what to expect. Try to adjust dosage for everyone to place everyone at roughly the same place in the same plateau (group tripping seems most effective at the upper second plateau). If desired, pick a destination beforehand, and adjust your setting to match. Be wary of intense or potentially unpleasant destinations (the "vacation to Hell" mentioned above was undertaken by very experienced DXM users). Try to make sure everyone stays together; many people have reported that having someone leave can ruin the experience. And above all, make sure someone sober is available to watch over you and make sure nothing goes wrong.
Dissociatives seem to lend themselves to paranormal experiences, and there are some very mundane, physiological explanations for this. Whether you accept the validity of these experiences or not, they tend to be interesting, to say the least. An entire chapter of the FAQ is devoted to the connection between DXM and paranormal experiences; see Section 8.
Many DXM users have told me that DXM allows them to detatch themselves from the unconscious influences in conversation and social interaction, and to perceive these consciously. One person remarked that, while on DXM, sober people's actions and words ranged from obviously deceptive to downright silly, and were enormously interesting to observe. I suspect that, by altering the "automatic" or unconscious perception of social cues, DXM may allow these cues to enter conscious awareness.
Since DXM becomes increasingly hard on the body and brain as the dosage increases, it is generally a good idea to make as much as you can out of a given dose. Here I offer the suggestions of various DXM users on tools to enhance the depth or intensity of the trip. These are especially useful at obtaining upper plateau effects from lower plateau dosages.
Many of the interesting effects from DXM occur due to an inhibition of sensory input, and a subsequent feedback loop that separates the conscious mind from the senses and body. Although one can obtain this from a high enough dose of DXM, it is also possible to boost the effects of a low dose using sensory deprivation, which generally increases the frequency of paranormal and altered state experiences (332,338).
For the ultimate in sensory deprivation, nothing beats a floatation tank. Popularized by John Lilly, floatation or sensory deprivation tanks are essentially nothing more than big boxes filled with water which has been saturated with about a half a ton (450kg) of epsom salts. You lie down in the water (in which you float, thanks to the epsom salts), close the cover, and relax, and find yourself cut off from all sensory input.
Unfortunately, float tanks don't come cheap. The low-end models typically start at $2000; the high-end models (which come with temperature control, built in stereo sound and video screens, etc.) are considerably more expensive ($4000 and up). If you have that kind of money, call Tools for Exploration, a company dedicated to exploration of consciousness; their phone number is 1-800-456-9887 (I have no affiliation with them).
For those without that kind of money but with good carpentry skills, you can of course build your own. Keep in mind that you can't just throw together a box and expect it to hold the stress imposed by the water (not to mention you). I'm not particularly good with carpentry, so I'm not going to even make suggestions here. But I do know it can be done, as I have spoken with someone who built his own float tank for $300 (not including the cost of the epsom salts). One warning, though: if you plan on putting in a water heating system, make good and goddamned sure it runs off a low-voltage supply and is protected by a ground-fault interrupt device. If this is meaningless to you, leave it to a qualified electrician.
Okay, so you're neither rich nor a carpenter, but still want to play with sensory deprivation. Here are a few suggestions.
There is one major problem to sensory deprivation, which is that even in conditions of total darkness and silence, one will typically continue to perceive sight (phosphenes) and sound (tinnitus, or ringing in the ears). There are numerous causes for this, but it all boils down to the fact that as you boost the gain on any sensory detection system (natural or artificial), you end up with more and more noise.
When scientists were studying psychic phenomena, they ran into this problem, and rather than using drugs to enhance sensory cutoff, they chose to take a different approach: the ganzfeld. A ganzfeld, (literally, "total field") is a set of constant, predictable sensory inputs. In a typical ganzfeld experiment, the subject is placed in a comfortable chair in an isolated room, with translucent filters placed over his or her eyes, and a dim, constant light source (usually red). Sound may be absent, or white noise may be used.
This sounds a lot more expensive than it usually is. In many experiments (remember, this is often on the fringes of science, so budgets aren't terribly high), the "translucent filters" are ping-pong (table tennis) balls cut in two, and the white noise is provided by an AM radio.
This is surprisingly easy to recreate in the comfort of your own home. Buy a pack of (white) ping-pong balls, and cut one in half. Let it sit open for a few days to let the ubiquitous "ping-pong ball smell" dissipate. Tape over the sharp edges of the half ping-pong balls with transparent tape over the edges so there are no sharp edgesPlace a comfy chair in the center of a room, and place a few dim, red bulbs in the lights. Get yourself an AM radio and tune it to a nonexistent station to provide a white noise, and turn the volume down to where it is comfortable. Sit down in the comfy chair, adjust it to where you can totally relax, and place the two ping pong balls over your closed eyes.
This does seem to work, although not as well as a sensory deprivation tank. The going theory among most researchers with whom I've spoken is that the sensory networks typically create internal models of the external world and only report when things change. In other words, you perceive not the external world, but the difference between your internal world and the sensory input. As long as sensory input stays exactly the same, the sensory networks don't really generate much output, and the conscious mind is once again left alone to do its own thing.
Light and Sound Machines are devices which use flashing light and sounds to induce changes in brainwave activity. The simplest of these, costing as little as $20, consists of a bunch of LEDs hooked up to a timer chip with a potentiometer for you to adjust the flashing frequency. The most complex of these (I've seen them list for as much as $500) are full- fledged portable computers which can independently control multicolored lights for each eye, as well as stereo headphones. Some of them allow you to plug in your own music, and will layer the brainwave beat frequency on top of it.
These are available from a number of sources, including the aforementioned Tools for Exploration (call for their catalog), "new age" stores, science stores, and of course on the Internet. To some degree you get what you pay for, but keep in mind that not everyone responds to these gadgets, and you may be better off not forking over the big bucks until you're sure it will be worth it. There's also a shareware program for PC's called "flasher" (see Section 7.4.5) which does the same sort of thing.
The theory on these devices is this. What we call "brainwaves" are the overall resonant properties of neural networks which, to a certain extent, behave like oscillators. Like most oscillators, these can be driven externally, and in this case, the best way to do so is via the eyes and ears. Flashing lights are known to affect brainwave activity, as are pulsing sounds (especially when a beat frequency is applied between the two ears). Epileptics are particularly susceptible to this, and most people are susceptible to the so-called "photic driving" effect, which can induce nausea and confusion using only flashing light and sound.
In other words, flashing lights and pulsing sounds can potentiate oscillations in the brain's neural networks in much the same way that one pushes a child on a swing. At precisely the right moment, a little push adds to the energy of the oscillator and keeps it going. Light and Sound machines apply just the right push at the right time to enhance brainwave activity in particular frequencies.
Using these devices, one can potentiate activity at various brainwave frequencies. Thus far the most commonly discussed brainwave frequencies (or more accurately frequency ranges) are alpha, theta, beta, delta, and sigma. The presence or absence of a given brainwave frequency is an indication of mental state, and by inducing brainwave activity, one can enhance those mental states.
A quick over-simplified summary of brainwave bands:
The two important brainwave bands for DXM users are theta and alpha. Light and/or sound stimulation at these frequencies has been reported to induce a variety of interesting altered states of consciousness which are, for the most part, indescribable.
Theta stimulation in particular has been reported to generate fantastic
results. Here is a description of one person's DXM plus theta stimulation
I used the program "FLASHER" set at 6Hz, turned off the lights, and stared at the screen. At first it just looked like a big flashing computer screen, but gradually I noticed that I was perceiving the light and dark phases separately. The flashes seemed to get brighter and brighter, and last longer and longer. Everything kept building up in intensity, and it was starting to get somewhat scary, when all of a sudden the flashing just ... stopped. It was all white light, and I felt my soul being tugged out of my body. From then on it got really weird ...
WARNING: Brainwave stimulation, especially in the alpha band, can induce siezures in epileptics. If you are, or suspect you might be, epileptic, don't use light and sound machines! DXM may actually decrease the seizure threshold, so be very, very careful.
So-called "hemisphere synch" tapes are audiocassettes which contain stereo sound tracks designed to induce particular brainwave patterns. They are similar in principle to light and sound machines, but obviously less flexible. One brand, "HemiSync", has been demonstrated to be effective (340) (I have no affiliation with this product). You can order hemisphere synch tapes from Tools for Exploration (1-800-456-9887).
There are a variety of "trip programs", which typically display psychedelic graphics, morphing patterns, weird visual effects, and that sort of thing. These are popular additions to any psychedelic experience. A short list of them, with links to download, can be found at the following website: http://www.frognet.net/~dxm/trip-programs.html.
One of the more notable of these is flasher, a short DOS program which does a fairly goo>
DXM, unlike LSD, doesn't tend to lend itself as much to trip toys. By the time you've reached a sufficient dose to get strong psychedelic effects, you probably won't want to move around much. However, some people seem to enjoy trip toys with DXM, ranging from art supplies to slinkies. I can't really offer suggestions here, except to find what you like and have fun with it. One person reports a device called the "LSD Flight Simulator", an inexpensive gadget, works well to induce closed-eye hallucinations.
This is a small list of some of the things which people have reported were particularly unpleasant, boring, or otherwise unenjoyable.
Most individuals who have exercised under the influence of DXM have reported negative effects such as nausea, vomiting, cramping, and a general loss of the more enjoyable aspects of the trip. This seems to become more and more significant with higher doses of DXM. The one exception seems to be swimming, which if done on a first plateau DXM dose can be enjoyable.
DXM is an intoxicating drug, and no intoxicating drug should be used when you are driving. Ever. If you're pulled over, the cops will know you are on something, as DXM strongly interferes with normal eye movements at recreational levels. They may not know what you're on, but they can still bust you, and even if you never get formally charged, this is definitely not a fun tripping experience.
Not to mention, by driving (or operating heavy machinery) on DXM you are placing yourself and potentially a lot of other people at risk. The highways are full of enough carnage as it is, and there's no excuse for adding to it. Quite frankly I think that anyone who drives while intoxicated (on anything) is committing an act of attempted manslaughter (if not murder) and repeat offenders should be charged and tried as such. That's probably an extreme position, but I think far too many people are willing to blame the alcohol (or drug) for the user's arrogance and stupidity.
Many people have had the experience of going to classes drunk, stoned, or otherwise intoxicated. Going to class on a low dose of DXM should be fairly similar. Once probably won't hurt you, although it certainly isn't going to help you either. Doing this regularly is definitely bad news, as DXM will interfere with memory when used regularly, and may cause cognitive impairment with long-term use. High doses of DXM are even worse, since the dissociative effects can lead to highly inappropriate behavior. To top it off, as it becomes more difficult to judge the appropriateness of behavior, the fear at doing something that will get you laughed at (or worse) can make a trip turn unpleasant.
A special note for people still in high school (or younger): don't do DXM, or any other drug, in school. Yes, school can really suck. The classes are boring, repetitive, unchallenging, and full of potentially useless information. The teachers are often (but not always!) more interested in hearing you regurgitate facts than have an original thought. The administrators generally aren't interested in you as a person, they're interested in making sure the school runs smoothly and that they get paid. And your peers usually don't give a rat's ass about your feelings; they're too busy coping with newly found hormones and playing Cooler Than Thou. And so, I might add, are you, in all likelihood.
During this time, many students with half a brain in their heads end up going through the usual sort of teenage existential angst (you'll know it when you get there). This is, I think, one of the rites of passage of today's youth, which has the potential to liberate one from being completely under the control of what one's peers think of as cool. It also has the potential to get you into a lot of trouble, especially with drugs, and DXM is no exception.
Don't get me wrong; I don't think drug use is inherently any more or less wrong for teenagers than for adults. In practicality, however, one needs a certain level of emotional and intellectual (and possibly physical) maturity before responsible drug use becomes likely. And responsible people know there are times and places not to use intoxicating or otherwise mind-altering substances.
So in the mean time, avoid using drugs in school. Many of your teachers and administrators will know (they may seem dumb as a post. Don't believe it). Your grades will probably suffer, and for all their seeming irrelevancy, good grades are really one of the better tickets out of a life of boredom. You may also develop a stubborn habit, as the use of a drug becomes associated with the everyday activity of going to school. Finally, the bad trip potential shouldn't be ignored.
As for what to do instead, well, there's no easy answers there. Some people find fulfillment in reading Sartre and Thoreau, others in reading X-Men and romance novels. Regular exercise really does help, as with so many other problems in life, and it helps one to cope with boredom and mundanity. Don't neglect your mind either, even if your teachers do; you can be your own teacher (and a damned good one at that). Question everyone and everything; it's the only way to learn. And above all else, try to keep a sense of humor; things that seem vastly important now will seem a lot less serious in a few years.
Obviously, the same advice goes for using DXM at work. Unless your job is considerably different than most I've ever encountered, DXM won't help your performance and will probably seriously impair it. So unless you want to end up unemployed, save the psychedelics for weekends and vacations.
This issue is considerably more complex than I'd originally realized. Generally speaking, taking a booster dose is not a good idea and probably won't do what you want. It is possible to jump from the first plateau to the second, and from the second to the third, with a booster dose. However, it doesn't always work, and generally speaking you can't sustain a given plateau (except the first plateau, although that's difficult).
With a great degree of practice, you can probably become adept at gauging how much DXM to take for a booster dose. However, it seems to take a lot of practice. You'd probably be better off picking the dosage at the beginning and sticking with it.
Besides, as the duration of the trip is extended with dose boosting or redosing, the dysphoric aspects of the experience increase, until eventually most people report feeling like the walking dead. Not to mention by extending the duration of the trip you are increasing the chance for adverse effects and brain damage.
The one exception to all this seems to be a first plateau dose, which (with practice) can be maintained for some time, leading to a prolonged stimulant effect. This is probably due to the dopamine reuptake inhibiting effect of DXM (absent with DXO), similar to that of bupropion (WellbutrinTM) or cocaine. Prolonging this will, however, intensify the "crash" and is probably not a good idea.
Many DXM users report that stressful environments can induce bad trips, dysphoria, and panic attacks. This is nothing new to psychedelics, of course, but DXM seems to be more capable of it than LSD.
Recently someone pointed out to me that most of the psychedelic and interesting effects of DXM seemed to go away with repeated use, and hadn't returned. He suggested a limit of about 50 trips; i.e., you get roughly 50 DXM trips before the magic is gone. Other people have said similar things, although the exact number seems to vary from person to person. A few seem to be able to use DXM repeatedly without ever losing the more interesting psychedelic qualitiies.
There are a number of possible explanations for the "50 trip limit". Here are a few I came up with, as well as potential solutions.
Try taking DXM in a *completely* new environment and see if that changes anything. Make sure to do a *low* dose first, though; if there is a state-dependent tolerance, you could go way too high accidentally if in a new environment.
Some people have trouble achieving hallucinations on DXM. Here are some suggestions that may be helpful, based on reports I have received (note: none of this should be taken as advice in any way; I'm just passing this along):
|Place yourself in partial or complete darkness. Most NMDA/sigma agents seem to give the best hallucinations when there is little or no visual input.|
|Close your eyes. It is almost always easier to get closed-eye visuals (CEVs) than open-eye visuals (OEVs), and DXM is no exception.|
|Listen to music. Music often brings about intense visuals, sometimes even open-eye visuals.|
|Mentally focus on your phosphenes - those little blips and squiggly patterns that appear in your field of vision in darkness (yes, everyone has them; not everyone notices). For whatever reason, this seems to help start hallucinations.|
|Imagine things. This seems to help start the process in some people.|
|Dose with other people and synchronize your trips.|
|Increase the dosage the next time you trip.|
|Decrease the absorption time the next time you trip. If you are taking gelcaps, break them open. If you are drinking syrup, drink it on an empty stomach.|
|Increase the absorption time the next time you trip. Some people have reported this to be useful. For example, if taking gelcaps, take one every 5 minutes until all are taken.|
|Combine with cannabis (marijuana). (Note: this is, of course, illegal, and I advise you not to do this).|
|Inhale a balloon of nitrous oxide (again, this is probably illegal, and I'm advising you against it). Warning: one person (a regular user of nitrous oxide) reported that this combination resulted in long-lasting peripheral numbness.|