New Yorker Opens Vaults of Erowid, World's Most Important Drug Experience Guide

The Erowid website may be familiar to many readers of the AlterNet Drug Reporter. Generations of Drug Reporter editors have delved deep into its vaults of drug-related knowledge in successful search for fodder. Erowid is an invaluable resource, not just (or even mostly) for drug journalists, but also for would-be experimenters, experience chroniclers and even emergency room doctors.


Want to learn about about strange drug experiences such as tripping on peyote, ketamine or LSD? Want to read of drug-induced cosmic ecstasies, or the flip-side—nightmarish and sometimes dangerous drug experiences? Erowid, the website that bills itself as "Documenting the Complex Relationship Between Humans and Psychoactives" is probably the place to be.

Erowid, operated by the man and woman team Earth and Fire, has been around for 20 years, building an immense library of drug experiences. It has detailed profiles of more than 350 psychoactive substances, from old standbys like caffeine to "new psychoactive substances" like 25l-NBOMe (N-Bomb). It has published some 25,000 user reports on these substances, creating huge and useful lodes of first-hand knowledge to be mined by researchers, writers, knowledge seekers, and would-be experimenters. And Erowid does get used; it reported some 17 million unique visitors last year.

As Erowid approaches its 21st birthday, it is getting some well-deserved attention from one of the nation's premier magazines, The New Yorker. In the November 23 issue, the magazine published a 5,000-plus-word Letter from California that profiles Earth and Fire and Erowid. As the profile notes, the pair are self-confessed "drug geeks," both enthusiastic about pursuing drug experiences and extremely knowledgeable. For the rest of us, Earth and Fire provide a most useful, perhaps even lifesaving, service. For people who like to play with new psychoactive experiences, Erowid provides credible guidance that has, for the most part, been sorely lacking from other sources. And for non-hipster drug bureaucrats, medical personnel and researchers, Erowid provides a portal into inner space that no stack of peer-reviewed academic papers can beat.

I could do more summarizing of The New Yorker piece, or I could just urge you to click on the link and read the whole thing yourself. It's quite good, and the mainstream recognition of the service Erowid provides is long overdue. Check it out. And check out Erowid while you're at it.

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