December 17, 2002
Banned substances in the Netherlands

It's that awful realization in the middle of the night. As an inveterate insomniac I am used to waking up in the middle of my Big Nap (as opposed to the Little Naps I take on occasion, although my office furniture is not conducive to Napping). Last night I awoke from the restless slumber which passes for sleep and immediately I sighed in exasperation, as a distinctly sore feeling was creeping up through my throat. If it had advanced any further it would have crept and tied a double knot in respiratory system. A cold is coming up, which means my ruminations will become increasingly febrile if the cold does indeed manage to vanquish my pharmacochemically reinforced defense systems.

Getting the right kinds of drugs here is surprisingly hard. In the country where marijuana is legal and even "harder" drugs are not entirely completely illegal in practice (sort of), if you try to find Nyquil, you're out of luck. They just don't sell it here. It's illegal. I kid you not. I once asked an acquaintance of mine who happens to be a pharmacist, and he rolled his eyes in exasperation: "Oh, we haven't had that stuff here for decades!" He recommended taking a paracetamol and some cough syrup. It does not work as well as Nyquil, I can tell you that.

Experience has taught me to stock up on drugs like Nyquil (or in this case, The Giant's generic version of it) whenever I am in the US. Since tend to be in the US fairly often, this is never a problem, but at one point I had actually run out of Sudafed. Oh, the horror! If I ever get searched coming back from the US, I'll have some explaining to do I think...

By the way, never take Sudafed into Singapore. They treat it as an illicit drug, and they're not kidding about it. Apparently you can make speed out of the pseudoephedrine that's the active ingredient in Sudafed. I wonder whether they sell Nyquil there.

Posted by qsi at December 17, 2002 09:59 PM | TrackBack (0)
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I'm not sure about making speed, but I know it's a main ingredient used to make meth.

Posted by: zinnia on December 18, 2002 01:39 AM

I believe methamphetamine is a form of speed. Sudaphed is regulated here in the U.S.A. for that very reason. You can't buy more than one sell unit at a time. However, most big stores (Costco, for instance) get around that by selling Sudaphed 1 box per sell unit right beside "Suphedrine" or some other house brand, 3 boxes per sell unit.

Posted by: Eichra Oren on December 18, 2002 06:20 PM

Jeebus! I'm never leaving the borders of the US again... I couldn't get through a week without access to my antihistamines, decongestants, and other things that keep me able to take in oxygen.

Hm, I think in Florida they don't have anything against buying more than one unit of Sudafed. There was a 2-for-1 special at Albertson's a couple of weeks ago that I took advantage of. Whoo hoo, I'm a lawbreaker in some places!

Posted by: Andrea Harris on December 18, 2002 06:35 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Nyquil have pseudoephedrine in it as well? If so, you'd probably be out of luck in Singapore as well...

Posted by: Steve Gigl on December 18, 2002 07:35 PM

There's something else in decongestants and the like that is a hollucinagenic (sp?) when taken in large quantities. Apparently the kids here in the U.S. do this and call it Robotripping.

Posted by: amy on December 18, 2002 08:38 PM

Those zany Dutch!
See if they'll let you have some heroin. Some users find it makes them "nod off".

[Public statement: info obtained while I was a drug counselor. I never touched the stuff..]

Posted by: Wallace on December 18, 2002 09:55 PM

In Canada, Vitamin K is for some reason illegal. This was all kinds of fun for me when I was there over the winter a couple of years ago, since I get nasty nosebleeds in very cold weather unless I take Vitamin K regularly. I carried AC&C back to the US, and Vitamin K into Canada each time I went back and forth.

Posted by: Jeff on December 18, 2002 10:10 PM

I take ibuprofen for everything. Cheap, universally available, and an excellent placebo.

Posted by: Clem Snide on December 19, 2002 02:33 PM

As amy noted, it's almost certainly the dextromethorphan (cough suppressant) that keeps NyQuil off the market, not the pseudoephedrine (which, however, can be chemically converted in a very nasty, dangerous process to methamphetamine).

Dextromethorphan is usually combined with other drugs, like acetaminophen (a.k.a. paracetamol), guaifenesin (expectorant), or antihistamines. If you get it by itself, it has some properties that I'll let you read about wherever you like. Google for DXM (which is apparently the preferred Internet term for the drug).

Posted by: Devilbunny on December 19, 2002 05:09 PM

What is paracetemol anyway? What does it do? What do people think it does? I have never experienced any effects from taking it at all, and yet my British friends take it for everything from fevers and sore throat to hay fever symptoms, and you can only buy 3 packs at a pop from Boots. A British doctor even gave it to me when I thought I had meningitis. (I didn't have it, thank goodness.) Personally I think it's a sugar pill. But then why the regulation? And I've never seen it here in the US. Is it the equivalent of acetaminophen or a totally different animal?

Posted by: CRL on December 19, 2002 09:59 PM

You can buy 8mg codeine OTC in Canada, but not in the US. In Mexico, you can buy about whatever you want to at the pharmacy. In Brazil, you could go into a pharmacy, have them give you a shot of penicillin.

I don't understand why we need a permission note to buy the drugs we want. Doctors have you come in for an office visit, simply to make you go through them to get your prescription. This is for economic reasons, not medical. Internet Pharmacies are gradually breaking down prescription laws as people buy from overseas to save money. Eventually, drug stores here will demand the right to sell without prescriptions.

Posted by: Jabba the Tutt on December 20, 2002 05:02 AM

CRL: Paracetamol is called Tylenol in the US.

Posted by: Recoil on December 22, 2002 03:09 AM

FYI, if you really, really want a good night's sleep, try Zolpidem (known in the U.S. as Ambien). You'll need a doctor's prescription, but at only 10 or so for a month's supply, it's worth it IMHO.

Posted by: vaara on December 24, 2002 01:01 PM

I am very reluctant to start using any medication that has addictive properties, as Ambien does. I know it works well, because a friend of mine once gave me half a pill. I slept really well with that. Currently my insomnia is not bad enough to warrant such drastic intervention though.

Posted by: qsi on December 26, 2002 04:26 AM

The ingredient in "decongestants" that kids "robotrip" off of is called Dextromethorphan (DXM). And, speaking as an experienced DXM user, I feel obliged to inform you that most people who use DXM for it's mind-expanding (not hallucinogenic) properties stay away from medicines that combine DXM with decongestants and antihistamines, as those are generally not good to take in large doses. If you do a search on Google, you will find that out (the term "robotripping" is used because the main medicine of choice for DXM users is Robitussin Maximum stracgth Cough, which contains only DXM).

Posted by: John on January 27, 2003 06:55 PM
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