My experience on Spice, the drug being blamed for a UK ‘zombie epidemic’

‘I hadn’t screamed this loud since I still believed in monsters under the bed’

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If you believe the headlines, Manchester is like something out of a horror film. Workers have been “too scared” to leave their offices, with one telling the Daily Star: “We had to call police last week because a zombie was in our office doorway.”

The cause? “Spice Zombies,” victims of an addictive new drug which is running rife in the city. Spice is bad news, and I should know: I’ve smoked it.

It was the accessibility that was enticing. It was at one point last year when I found myself bored and enticed to try it, so I simply went to a headshop on the local, busy high-street, opposite a lovely leafy pub.

Part of the popularity of Spice is not just down to demand: it’s also the reliable supply. With just small changes to the chemicals used, suppliers have always been able to stay ahead of the law with a new version of previous products.

It rolls like a joint, it looks like a joint, but it definitely doesn’t smell like a joint. Imagine thyme soaked in kerosene burning; or just imagine a smell that agrees with the small print on the packet of “Magic Dragon” which says “Not intended for human consumption.”

I took a hearty drag from the familiar-looking roll, but I was totally unprepared for the unfamiliar consequences. The left side of my brain went numb, like brain-freeze, if you swallowed your ice-lolly whole. It was like one half of my brain decided to go on cruise-control, and left all the responsibilities of running a human body to the other, which gingerly accepted its duty.

My shoulders relaxed, I nestled into the bench I was sat on and understood why they called it synthetic-cannabis; you’re mellow, stretched out and relaxed. But you still can’t help thinking a nice spliff would have been better.

A few tokes later and you realise that the dull  garden with yellowing grass you’re sat in has transformed into Versailles. The grass never looked greener. In fact, I’d never seen grass that green before. All the flowers suddenly became noticeable, and vibrant, and bold in all the colours that they were in.

Maybe I was a zombie – it makes you move like one. It’s been likened to wading through treacle. The body fights this unnatural substance. I probably looked like C-3PO trying to get into bed. Assuming I could treat this as a herb, rather than the chemical compounds it was composed of,  I bonged it the next time. Worst decision ever.

I was in my room at my halls, which already looked like a prison cell with its white brick walls, so the feeling of being trapped was inevitable. I knew I was done for. Words could no longer form in my mouth, though I could still think them.

Imagine being paralysed from the waist down and desperately trying to get your big toe to move. I could only sit there on the edge of my bed spluttering, while trying to do a mic-check in my head. A horrible aftertaste filled my mouth, like I’d just used WD40 to rise it out. And that wasn’t the worst of it.

The room became pixelated like static on an old TV screen, and I convinced myself that this would be the last room I’d ever see or be in. My whole body became locked, the remaining half of my brain, that was left in charge earlier, was supposed to be sending signals to my legs to stand up but had decided to take a break too.

Now imagine trying to wake up your housemates in the middle of the night, when you know the house is on fire, and they just roll over saying “10 more minutes.” It was a moment of terrifying frustration.

I screamed.

It was a scream that came from that corner of your mind that knows sheer terror, but you’ve rarely ever felt it since you stopped believing there were monsters under the bed. The high-frequency of my shrill, blood-curdling scream must have slapped my brain into action, and I was out of the TV static.

Thankfully, I was more or less back to normal after that.

They call this mind-altering substance “synthetic cannabis,” but that’s a misleading – and a dangerous term to be throwing around. The psychoactive effects of this unpredictable substance are totally unlike that of cannabis.

Synthetic cannabis is a product of government pandering on the discussion of the delusion: the war on drugs, which has led to spice flooding the streets of the UK. According to a BBC article, synthetic cannabinoids were developed more than 20 years ago in the US for testing on animals as part of a brain research programme. But in the last decade or so they’ve become widely available to the public.

Last year, the government passed the Psychoactive Substances Act in the aim of putting an end to suppliers making slight adjustments in the chemicals used.However, this has perhaps not been quite as effective as hoped. But the Manchester Evening News says “experts at the sharp end of Manchester’s Spice epidemic have warned banning the drug has only made the crisis worse.”

Now, with the General Election, we are at a crucial point to openly discuss and debate British political and social attitudes toward drugs and rehabilitation. And trust me, we should.