The great BZP experiment: How New Zealand lost its head to party pills
, 2022-06-04 00:55:43,
From 2000 to 2007, the party drug BZP was legal to buy and available from your local dairy. What happened?
First published January 30, 2021
‘This is what movies say drugs are like,” says Jim (not his real name), remembering how he felt when he took six party pills in one night. He was a musician, student, and regular drug taker – he’d munted his body and mind plenty of times. This was different, and he hated it.
His body split into one very hot half and one very cold half, and he hallucinated a crow in his living room. It was 2007 and streaming services didn’t exist, so he watched a Napoleon Dynamite DVD on loop for five hours with the sound off, pacing around his Dunedin flat and doing character voices. “I felt like if I stopped moving, I would die,” he says.
He went to the bathroom, locked the door, and turned both of the taps on full – hot and cold. “I was splashing water on my body trying to force it to adjust its temperature. Like, ‘I’ve got to get normal again’.”
It wasn’t the first time he’d taken party pills, but it was the most he’d taken at once.
And it was totally legal.
Once upon a time, you could buy a pack of the recreational drug benzylpiperazine, better known as BZP, for $25 and the high of what one user calls “shitty speed”. In 2006, one survey found a massive 40% of 19-29 year olds had taken it at some point in their lives. That’s a lot of people, and yet pill producers say no one ever died from taking it. The first official BZP death happened after its ban.
“I think it would have been nigh on impossible to take enough in a way that would harm you chemically,” says Jim. “It would be very hard to die just from that. But did I feel it was possible to take enough to have a heart attack? Yeah,…
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