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Alexander Shulgin -- Memorial Gathering
August 2nd, 1pm-6pm, Berkeley CA
A High Dose 2C-B Trip
...a note from underground
by "Gracie and Zarkov"
Copyright December 1984 by Gracie and Zarkov Productions. We believe that in a truly free society the price of packaged information would be driven down to the cost of reproduction and transmission. We, therefore, give blanket permission and encourage photocopy, quotation, reprint or entry into a database of all or part of our articles provided that the copier or quoter does not take credit for our statements.

Number 2.

Introduction
We had planned to take approximately 30 mg of 2CB orally to experience full effects. However, unknown to us at the time, a systematic error in the scale raised the dose to almost 40 mg each. The 2CB was taken orally, encapsulated, on an empty stomach. First effects were noticeable in 15-20 minutes, with a steep climb to a peak at about one hour. The peak lasts about an hour, there is a plateau until hour 3, then a very precipitous return to nearly straight. There is a long, low-level tail to the trip; we were fully down after 6-8 hours total. Lonqer-term effects (mood changes) last 5-6 days.


Setting
Earlier that day, before the 2CB trip (which started about midnight), we had smoked some DMT. Zarkov did approximately 10-15 mg around 10 AM; Gracie smoked about 30 mg at that time and the same amount again at noon. For Gracie, the DMT experience was somewhat frustrating and not very intense, it seemed blocked by neurotic or distracting modes of thought during the trip. Gracie had lingering gastrointestinal upset (psychosomatic?).


2CB Effects
Initial effects began 20 minutes after ingestion. They included general arousal: piloerection, muscular hypertonus, the characteristic hallucinogenic amphetamine local "pump" of the pelvic area, nipple erection and facial flushing. While the "pumping-up" effects are less localized and less perceptually sexual then on MDA, they were similar in essence. The flush was much more pronounced than on MDA or MDMA, including itching of mucus membranes. This was followed by generalized chills and tremors similar to, but much more intense than, methamphetamine shakes.

About 45 minutes into the trip, we drew a hot bath to warm up in, (very effective, but not recommended if you feel like you are about to pass out) using visual positioning of the water valves to set the temperature. From past experience, we knew the water must have been quite hot, yet in our shivering states the water felt only warm. Both of us were hallucinating and were becoming increasingly agitated.

The peak effects could be roughly categorized under visual, emotional and somatic modes. However, these three modes were out of synch: the visual disturbances did not correlate to the emotional feelings, nor either of the former to somatic sensations. By concentrating attention on one of the modes, all three would moderate. This was especially noted by Zarkov, who was able to deal with the peak effect without losing it by focusing attention on a particular effect. For example, the overwhelming feeling of terror at the peak was unlike a DMT, LSD or Psilocybian mushroom trip where there is an apparent causal or precipitating incident, vision, encounter or meaningful train of thought (e.g. something is threatening one, or one encounters personal demons, etc.) 2CB terror had no discernible "cause". Upon self-reflection, no cause could be found. "Why am I terrorized?" was a question with no answer. This self-reflection produced a significant decrease in the feeling of terror. Zarkov remarked, "It was as if 2CB was a specific chemical agent exciting a 'terror circuit' in your brain to overload with no object, no insight and no cause." (This comment relates to the "lizard hypothesis" below).


Visual Effects
With open eyes, the hallucinations were very unpleasant (both aesthetically and emotionally ugly). Multiple outline images formed around objects or people and were made up of small angular geometric components. Colors were ugly blue-greens and oranges, not very bright, rather grey-toned. Unlike LSD "time-slicing" (our term) or "trails" (Stafford's term), the multiple images were incoherent; "trails" tend to leave a track like a meteor, 2CB multiimages were scattered around the object like dozens of TV ghosts. At points in the bathroom tile, edges of walls or window frames, ugly little geometric forms appeared to crawl out. Visuals became more intense and more ugly during the peak hour--they squirmed in an icky, disjointed fashion.

With eyes closed, a myriad of jiggling forms with the same polyhedral geometric components bounced or squirmed around. The overall pattern was horizontal (wider than they were tall) and very disturbing to look at.

The hallucinations obscured reality to a greater extent than anything but smoked DMT or high-dose mescaline (400+ mg). Facial distortions were subtle but noticeable by both of us - the facial changes were unpleasant.


Somatic Effects
For 30 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes we felt increasing nausea, GI cramps, the kind of symptoms Gracie associates with extreme anxiety, fear or anger. Chills and shakes appeared physiological rather then psychosomatic, since they went away with the hot bath. The somatic sensations were quite overwhelming, and like the terror described above, had no discernible cause except (speculating) limbic hyperarousal. Animal arousal continued throughout the trip, accompanied by tactile sensitivity, skin flushing and erectile tissue engorgement. However, neither of us found those effects erotic. Any level of activity -- bathing, removing contact lenses, crawling around -- reduced somatic effects. There was no appetite suppression, unlike methoxylated amphetamines.


Emotional Effects
The most unpleasant aspect of the trip: overwhelming feelings of fear, anger, pain, rage, demand; but lacking the usual human social or even mammalian associations or meanings. The emotions were strong and clearly felt, but are not well described in words. They were very raw and undirected, thrashing around in one's bodymind.

Our present model for understanding this is based on the Leary-Wilson 8 circuits model, which seems to place such raging neurosomatic surges into the lowest (biosurvival) circuit. Metaphorically and phylogenetically speaking, it represents the lizard component of your bodymind -- the limbic system which controls and produces "fight, flight, feed or fuck" behavior (the 4 Fs). Think of an aroused alligator, thrashing snake or cranked-up dinosaur: powerful and active, but with a surging chemical or emotional drive more primitive and older than our monkey ways of behaving. Interestingly, the emotional effects were clearly related to some of the somatic effects in that concentrating on emotions relieved the body reactions. For example, Gracie found that the gastrointestinal cramps, nausea and unpleasant (to put it mildly!) feelings melted away when she focused on the emotional pain, rage, fear or desire -- crying, sobbing, wailing, howling or clinging all helped to alleviate the discomfort. As described above, focusing on one component of the trip made the others fade away. Physical activity would also relieve the physical and emotional distress, e.g. dancing, thrashing, crawling around.


After the Peak
Gracie remarked that the trip was like a Puccini opera -- lots of emotional manipulation but lacking in depth. We returned to our trip room and payed heavy metal rock (Blue Cheer) which helped greatly to restore our equilibrium. Gracie danced, growled, crawled around and raved about "barbarian hordes from the Id" (not a rock band). From then on, we both improved markedly, became euphoric and stayed aroused. The unpleasant body symptoms slowly faded.

At about hour 3, Zarkov came down very quickly (over about 3 minutes) and Gracie followed shortly thereafter. We were left tired, but not particularly "strung out". At this time the hallucinations simply switched off.


Lingering Effects
We noted lingering effects for about 5 days: disturbed visual field with flashes and discontinuities; our mental states were excellent, bordering on low level euphoria. Zarkov noted, "I was cheerful, unflappable even though it was a difficult week at work. It felt great to be alive and embodied as a monkey." Vivid but confused dreams laden with emotional affect in realistic, even mundane settings occured for 2-3 nights after the trip.

A final image - the Jurassic must have been quite a time! If our own experience reflects lizard-like programs, the dinosaurs become more comprehensible and more horrifying.


Conclusion
It is reported in the literature that 2CB can produce a very different trip (milder and more pleasant). We believe the quality of our trip to be highly dosage-related phenomenon -- the recommended "therapeutic" dose is 15-18 mg. 2CB might prove useful for those neurotic individuals so alienated from themselves that they cannot experience their own embodiment. Nevertheless, our experience, while short, was one of the most terrifying trips we have had. Therefore, we recommend caution in using 2CB, in fact, we do not particularly recommend it at all, especially for inexperienced users of hallucinogens who may find it effects too much, too soon.

Stay high and stay free!

Gracie and Zarkov


Afterword
To round out the information in our article above we have attached a 2CB "Fact Sheet" that has been prepared and is being distributed by advocates of the drug. While we would not violently disagree with the information, even though the "new age" therapist tone is cloying, we would suggest that this piece is more of an advertisement for the substance, rather then a dispassionate analysis. As such, it reminds us very much of the "fact sheets" that the salesmen for so called "ethical pharmaceutical" companies distribute to M.D.'s along with free samples of their products. Some of the euphemisms are quite striking. "Energy tremor" was in our more degenerate youth referred to as "speed shakes". "Physical Body-Load" is usually referred to in the pharmacological literature as either "physical side effects" or "onset of toxic side effects", etc.

In a more general sense we find it unfortunate that fact sheets such as this one and the touting of substances by professional colleagues are often the only sources of information that a health professional uses in deciding whether or not to administer a psychoactive drug to a patient.

Patients put their trust in the health professional as an "expert" -- a person with both a breadth and depth of specialized knowledge. Before health professionals undertake to use psychoactive substances in their practice we would hope that four conditions hold:

  1. The health professional has conducted extensive and intensive literature search on all areas of psychoactive drugs.

  2. The health professional has personal direct experiences with a range of psychoactive substances: from low dose experiences through high dose to overdose levels (within physical safety). The substances should include LSD, Psilocybian Mushrooms, DMT, mescaline, Methamphetamine, MDA, MDM, and hopefully an Ayahuasca-like mixture.

  3. Based on direct repeated experience with a range of substances and based on the knowledge of that patient, pick the right substance for that patient firmly believing that the particular substance is well matched to that particular patient's needs.

  4. The health professional should not use a particular substance just because it is conveniently available or "in" that year.

Unfortunately, it is rare to find a therapist where any of the above four conditions have been met and given the current legal situation and therapeutic practice, we doubt that these condition will be met. At the very least, we would hope that every ethical health professional experiences 2CB or any other psychoactive substance that they use in their practice at extreme high dosage levels before they subject their considerably more naive patients to the experience.

We base these recammendations on 20 and 5 years experience (respectively) of usually weekly psychedelic experimentation. We are personally experienced with low to extremely high doses of all the substances cited above (as well as others) both alone and in combination. It has always been our practice to personally experience a psychoactive substance in the range of at least up to 2 to 3 times effective dose (limited only by toxicity) in order to fully judge the substance before recommending it to others.


One Final Note
Recreational use of 2CB has taken a peculiar twist. The method of administration is often to ingest a dose and then to immediately "snort" an equal second dose. Each dose has been in the range of 15-25 mg. This combination has acquired a certain cachet for "slam dancing" among Marin County punks. To say the the results are very intense and bizarre is an understatement!

Stay high and stay free,

Gracie and Zarkov




General Information: 2C-B

(Chemical Name: 4-Bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine)

2C-B should be considered for use in psychotherapy only under the following circumstances: (1) When the therapist has personally explored the use of the material, at the different levels described below, and has become familiar with its complexities, both physical and psychological; (2) When the patient or client has had considerable experience with MDMA or with other psychoactive chemicals previously. We can conceive of no circumstances under which the use of 2C-B might be justified without prior experience of at least MDMA. This applies to both therapist and patient.

The information in this paper is addressed to the therapist who is considering possible use of 2C-B in his practice, and wishes to become familiar with the character of the 2C-B experience.

The initial experiment should be at a dosage level of no more than 16 mgs. If there is no apparent difficulty at this level, the next experiment can be 18 mgs. (There should be a minimum of one week between experiments.) Following this, one can take 20 mgs., and finally, 25 mgs. Please note: some people are found to be very sensitive to low levels of psychoactive materials. If there is any reason to suspect such sensitivity, start 2C-B at 12 mgs. instead of 16. For such people, 18 mgs. may be the eventual maximum level.

At 16 mgs., the intensity of the experience should not be above what we call "museum level," which means that, at this dosage, one should find it possible to walk around a museum and enjoy the enhancement of color and an increased ability to interpret and become involved with the paintings and other forms of art. (It is not, however, advisable to visit a museum or any other place outside the home until you have a great deal of familiarity with the effects of 2C-B.) At 16 mgs. there will probably be an awareness of the so-called "energy tremor," which can be very disturbing to a person unfamiliar with other psychoactive materials, but should not produce anxiety in an experienced person. This energy surge may be felt most intensely during the onset (usually within 20 to30 minutes after ingestion) and may become less obvious by the time the plateau of the experience is reached (one to two hours after ingestion) and walking around may be quite comfortable. There are many people, however, who continue to be keenly aware of the energy tremor during the entire experience (usual duration, to baseline, about 5 hours minimum) and who may prefer to move around as little as possible. No one can anticipate the response of another person; each has to discover his or her own.

At 18 mgs., the visual effects are stronger and the energy surge is also felt more strongly. The duration of the experiment may be a total of 6 hours or more. The variations in the length of time before return to baseline will be discussed later.

20 mgs. is yet again more intense. This is the maximum level at which 2C-B should be taken, even by experienced people, when it follows MDMA, which will be expanded upon later in this paper. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, also. One therapist has found that he has no response to 2C-B at a level lower than 25 mgs., even after an earlier MDMA session, but this is exceptional. Another therapist has found that dosage over 12 mgs. is far more intense than desired, for himself; this, too, is exceptional.

25 mgs. might be considered, in general, the maximum level for patient use. Seasoned experimenters have used 2C-B at 30 mgs. without difficulty, but there seerns to be general agreement that, above this level, there tends to be an increase in the physical body-load -- such as energy tremor or perspiring -- without any corresponding increase in mental or psychological reward. (During early research with 2C-B, several years ago, one veteran researcher accidentally ingested 45 mgs. and experienced considerable difficulty, both physically and psychologically, but without lasting ill-effects of any kind. The most lasting positive effect was a determination to avoid accidents in the future. Another person, experienced with psychoactive materials, obtained 2C-B and -- for reasons unknown -- took 60 mgs. The result was an experience remarkable for its dark and threatening aspects, unrelieved by either light or insight.)

When using 2C-B for the first time, the duration of the experiment will probably be about 6 hours, but the time set aside for the experience should be considerably longer, for the following reasons. The chemical allows the opening of emotional and psychic doors which -- depending on the nature of the psychological contents released -- might well choose to stay open longer than anticipated. Although there has been reference to a physical energy surge, there is, of course, a corresponding energy surge in the psyche and it has been the finding of several researchers that this aspect of the interior experience -- eyes-closed imagery, emotional disinhibition, insight into problems, among others -- tended to continue past the time when the chemical effects in the physical body could reasonably be expected to have ended. (This is more likely to happen at levels higher than the initial 16 mgs., but it has been known to happen at this level, and one cannot expect to predict such an event; it is better to allow the additional time, in advance.)

The reverse has often happened, and is equally unpredictable. There are sessions during which an effort at problem-solving and emotional release has been apparently successful, usually involving considerable intensity of emotion and imagery, often touching on what might be called the archetypal level, and this has been followed by an earlier than usual descent to baseline on the part of the patient -- to the surprise of both patient and therapist. It is as if the psyche has recognized a completion of its project, and finds no reason to maintain the state further.

In the ideal situation, as with MDMA, the therapist has taken the 2C-B along with his patient. In this case, an early descent to baseline might well be avoided, due to the patient's contact with the therapistŐs continued consciousness-alteration. However, this is also impossible to pretict. The desirability of such an extension, in this kind of situation, is open to question.

A "good" 2C-B experience involves, for most people, some or all of the following. Eyes-open vlsual effects; objects moving, a rippling effect in walls or ceilings; intensification of color; familiar faces appearing in unfamiliar guises -- pleasant or unpleasant, depending perhaps upon the relationship between experimenter and the people perceived; familiar scenery assuming strange aspects (a large rock suddenly becomes a huge face, or a field of grass is a moving spread of green velvet, etc.). The intensity of such visual effects appears to diminish with repeated use of 2C-B, as if the psyche learns to screen out distractions. Eyes-closed fantasy and imagery are, to the best of our knowledge, common to all experiments, and do not particularly diminish with experience. As with MDMA, there is a general sense of being in control of one's actions, although at the higher levels one tends to avoid telephone conversations or other forms of interaction with people outside the experience.

Under no circumstances, short of life-or-death emergencies, should anyone taking 2C-B attempt to drive a car or any other vehicle. The alteration in time-sense and space-perception makes any such undertaking extremely dangerous and irresponsible. No driving should be attempted after an experiment until baseline has been achieved and carefully tested. At night, the experimenter should be taken outside in the dark, and a flashlight beam directed at his face for a second. If after-images persist against the dark, driving should be postponed. He should be alerted to the impression of light-flashes at the periphery ot his vision, another indication that the eyes have not returned to normal. The pupil of the eye, which is usually enlarged during the experiment, should resume its usual size before he drives home. (In daytime, a dark room serves for eye tests.)

If there is the slightest doubt as to the validity of baseline, or any hint of hesitation or unease on the part of the experimenter, as he prepares to return home, departure should be delayed, or a friend should be asked to drive for him. To avoid any such problems, it is best to do the experiment either in the patient's own home, or in a place where he may conveniently spend the night.

Among the experiences associated with 2C-B are those involving what have been called cosmic and oceanic feelings and images. Often, there is some form of transformation, with emotions and imagery working together to present a new aspect of the patient's life and problems, a new way of understanding meanings, possible new ways of approaching old difficulties and habits of thought.

Another aspect of the 2C-B experience, apparently common to all experimentcrs, is an intensification of the senses of touch, smell, taste; an increased response to color and sound. As with many psychoactive materials, there is a degree of anaesthesia which affects the pain-receptors in the skin, particularly. Pinching the inside of the knee, for instance, produces little discomfort, and care must be taken to warn a patient not to touch a heated object which would ordinarily cause him to withdraw his hand reflexively; under 2C-B, especially at highcr levels, he might not perceive the heat immediately and a burn coult result. Paradoxically, the perception of the faintest touch on the skin is heightened considerably, and physical discomfort or pain resulting from a broken bone or any kind of strain or imbalance in the body tends to be increased. Some people have reported the use of 2C-B as a diagnostic aid or ally, since it enables an increased perception of problems present in the body, when attention is turned in that direction. There is insufficient data, at present, on this potentially useful aspcct of 2C-B, and we hope that more will be available in time.

Perceptions of imbalance -- either physical or emotional in kind -- tend to take the forms of images often intense, colorful and in some cases, overwhelming to the patient. If the therapist is not taking the 2C-B with his patient, he will need well-educated antennae and a reservoir of emotional warmth to help his patient structure and assimilate and understand the experience.

A note of caution. 2C-B does not encourage escape of any kind from either the body or the emotions. Among those energies intensified during the experience are the sexual drives and responses. A patient who has sexual blocks, fears of sexuality, or a tendency to act out sexually, may be severely threatened by the 2C-B experience. The therapist should be aware of the possibility that he may have to deal with acute anxiety and/or unexpected transference problems. Serious thought should be taken before giving 2C-B (or MDMA, for that matter) to a patient suspected of repressing homosexuality. Some of the tragically negative experiences of the 1960s, when indiscriminate and uneducated use of psychoactive materials occasionally resulted in psychotic episodes, might have been due to unexpected confrontations with previously unacknowledged homosexuality.

Shoult the therapist wish to use 2C-B with his mate, however, it can indeed be one of life's richest experiences. While MDMA allows lovingness and warmth, but -- for most people -- tends to make orgasm difficult, 2C-B allows the fullest possible range of both emotional and physical expressions of love.

Music played during a 2C-B session tends to be felt deeply, and may often help a patient to structure his experience and thus better manage the images and emotions which arise.

An experienced therapist will, of course, avoid the use of any psychoactive chemical with a patient whose sense of Self (or "core" or"center") is weak and undeveloped. In certain unusual cases, the careful use of MDMA might be argued for, but 2C-B should be considered out of the question. This applies also in the case of children and young people under 16. However, even in a strongly centered patient, there might be a tendency to go very deeply into a state similar to deep meditation, or out-of -body experience. The therapist should have experience in dealing with such a state, and if it occurs during a 2C-B session, care should be taken to keep the patient in contact by means of quiet, persistent questions and other appropriate ways of maintaining communication.

2C-B is most effective when taken on an empty stomach. There should be no solid food eaten within four hours before an experiment. During the session, liquids should be available to help in avoiding dehydration. Coffee very often becomes distasteful during the session, so fruit juices and mineral water should be on hand. There is no anorexia with 2C-B, for most patients, and food will be appreciated toward the end of the experiment. Soup and bread and fruit are usually welcome. Cheese -- all kinds including yellow cheese -- will give no problems. A glass of wine is appreciated by some people, when baseline is near.

We strongly advise that 2C-B not be used if the patient has had any kind of psychoactive chemical within 4 to 5 days earlier. For reasons not well understood, psychoactive chemicals taken within a few days prior to a 2C-B session have sometimes resulted in a totally inactive 2C-B. Occasionally, without any apparent reason, 2C-B can be ingested with absolutely no resulting experience. In such an event, one can only search for psychological blocking, and renew the attempt at a later date.

The single exception that we know of, at this time, to the above is MDMA. MDMA can be taken by the client immediately before 2C-B (that is, within the same day) without diluting the 2C-B effect.

Some psychiatric pioneers are using MDMA followed by 2C-B in cases where breakthroughs in both insight and emotional release are sought. The conditions listed in the first paragraph of this paper should be noted.

MDMA tends to allow a flow of insight, perhaps by removing the fear and defensiveness which blocks insight and self-acceptance. Generally, it is thought of as a"mind and heart" opener, which allows the patient to be in complete control and to make fully conscious decisions. The MDMA-assisted ability to accept and trust, together with the depth of peacefulness often experienced, sometimes leaves untouched the deeply buried negative emotions which the therapist might wish to see explored. With the later ingestion of 2C-B, such emotional blocks can be loosened, and valuable work done in the area of the patient's problems. Needless to say, this combination will result in a long and busy day for both patient and therapist, and the patient can be expected to experience some degree of tiredness the following day. If carefully managed, however, the results can be extremely significant for the patient.

The procedure should be as follows: MDMA at the usual dosage level (generally 120 mgs. for an experienced patient), followed by 2C-B three hours or 3.5 hours later, at a dosage level of no higher than 20 mgs. maximum. The combination produces an increase in the effectiveness and intensity of the 2C-B.

NOTE: If a supplement of MDMA is taken (usually 40 mgs. at the 1.5 hour point), the2C-B should not be ingested until 1.5 to 2 hours minimum after the supplement was given. The 2C-B can be taken as long as 5 hours after the intial dose of MDMA without losing any of its increased effectiveness.

The therapist might consider asking the patient to spend time following a 2C-B experiment writing notes on his experience. It has been found that additional insights tend to result from this practice which may be of considerable value.

An informal note -- a reminder -- to the therapist considering an experience of his own with this (or any other) psychoactive material. The earlier reference to"museum levels" of 2C-B shoult not encourage anyone to be casual in leaving the safety and familiarity of his own home or office while under the influence of such materials. Most people are fully aware of the usual problems which may confront them in the outside world, but often neglect a very serious concern. It is usually called "hitch-hiking,Ó and refers to a very real phenomenon known as a contact-high. When you are under the influence of a strong psychoactive material, or any chemical which allows the release of energy which is not usually that much consciously experienced, your presence in a room (museum) or a store (let's get something at Safeway) or a gathering of people who are not (and should not be) aware of your altered state, your energy-field (or whatever you wish to call it) can affect others around you in ways that they are not prepared for and cannot understand. Unconsciously, they will (some people, that is, who are more sensitive or open) feel themselves stimulated, perhaps uncomfortably. Some may react with hostility, some with anxiety, some with a great deal of attention to you. for reasons unknown to them. We know of one young man who did visit a muscum under the influence of 2C-B and was followed from room to room by a museum guard who had apparently translated his awareness of the exceptional energy field into suspicion of criminal intent on the part of our friend. It made the museum visit somewhat less than relaxing. In summary, it is not just out of caution that you should avoid visits to well-populated outside places -- caution for yourself, that is -- but out of consideration for the peace of mind of strangers whose attention you might not need.

June, 1984



From: Alexander T. Shulgin
Subject: 2C-B

As to the 2C-B fact sheet, I contacted the person I suspected of of being the anonymous author and she has no objection to its going out on the net, but had this amendment: "There is a mention of the desirability of the therapist taking the 2C-B with the patient. This was common practice among psychedelic therapists in the early 80's, but at this time, I would say that it is not good practice, for two reasons: the therapist should be familiar enough with the altered state to be able to enter it along with the patient without the aid of the drug, but simply using the `contact high.' The second and major argument against the therapist's taking the drug is that, no matter how experienced and focused he is, inevitably some of his own private psychic and emotional stuff is going to leak through and demand his attention, which should be devoted entirely to the psyche of his patient."