Citation: Two-Can Sam. "Not Just A Binge, True Addiction: An Experience with Ether (from Starter Fluid) (ID 63190)". Erowid.org. Nov 14, 2008. erowid.org/exp/63190
[Erowid Warning: The “water extraction” method is ineffective in separating diethyl ether from the volatile hydrocarbon liquids/gases in “starter fluid”. Our understanding of the literature is that there is no such thing as safe use of volatile hydrocarbon gases: their psychoactive effects are inseparable from nerve and organ damage.]
I noticed that there are lots of reports of 'ether binges' a la' Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but not a true addiction story. Here's a hefty one. I apologize for the length, but you'll find it's all relevant to the experience at hand.
I began doing ether in 2003 or so using the water extraction method. Quickly I mastered the method by doing the following. I took a Gatorade squirt bottle, sprayed starting fluid in it (preferably Snap brand, second Prestone), poured the rest with water. Then shake vigorously for a few minutes. Turn the bottle upside down with the cap closed, and the ether and solvents then seperate. The ether is basically clear, the other is a nasty white liquid. Open the top, pour the solvent, and it's there. I'd also fold a shirt into a perfect square, pour ether on it, fold it across and squeeze it for a sec so the ether soaks evenly into the shirt. Put a bandana over it, and inhale through the bandana. All this does is stop me from rubbing ether on my face, an important step when addiction is in the equation. I also never 'sniffed' it, I'd 'kiss the rag' as I liked to say and inhale orally.
I'm detailing this just to show my experience with it, I did it so much I had a complete technique in doing it. Now for the first couple of years or so it was a fun little drug every now and then. I'd do it mainly when I was extremely upset/depressed. It would make me delirious to my problems so that when I came down enough time had passed that I could deal with it naturally. It also helped me get over shyness, when I'd that out of it, you don't really worry about being embarassed or anything. So it made me confident and helped overcome hard times. I'd soon learn to regret this knowledge.
About six months into 2006 I hit a stressful time. Now I should mention I have severe depression and anxiety before I continue. Family health problems, finances, woman troubles, etc. had stacked upon me and I began relying on my old cure too much.
For the first couple of months I did it everyday, a can or two would do for a day. The effects began to wither away from there old selves quite abruptly, though, and finally one day I did something very stupid. I have a concrete well outside my house that was my 'place of zen' for ether abuse. On this day, I had a particularily dirty mix of ether, I've never seen it such a dark color, EVER. Well I poured a 'bowlpack' (personal slang) and layed on the lid of the well with my feet and head hanging over the edges. I then layed the rag over my face and just inhaled and exhaled repetitively. I expected to, at the worst, knock myself out. Well, I heard something banging so I shot up quickly. What I saw was monsterous.
I saw one of my best friend's locked in the back of my car screaming and crying and beating on the back windshield. A mop that was dangling over my porch rail had grown an arm and started slapping the sides of the porch. A girl on my porch (who I later realized wasn't there either) started throwing dirt at me. In my wigged out stupor, I proceeded to yell at her and tell her to stop. I then ran onto the porch to stop her and as I got up the steps I saw there was nothing there. I then realized I had been the victim of the most visually, audibly, and sensually intense hallucination I had ever experienced and I've done a lot of hallucinogens (LSD, shrooms, AMT, 2C-I, etc.).
I'm not telling this as a humorous anecdote or a 'wild trip report'. My realization of what happened was the most horrifying, soul wretching, experience ever. A friend came over later and said I was, 'Ghost white, sweating, and obviously terrified of everything around me'. Now this isn't the end, it's just the beginning. Because this was an important moment for me, so important I wouldn't realize for months what it truly meant and that is this: that is when I first became addicted.
I know it sounds crazy and reckless, and my years of ether abuse probably helped my already unstable mind make this decision, but I then began doing it every single day for months and months. Every time my lips touched the rag, it was only moments until the next hallucination. I was fucking nuts. I believed that if apparitions threw breadcrumbs to birds in the sky, then it was going to rain. I believed that by doing ether and essentially wigging out daily (what a LSD user would call a 'bad trip' was my daily bread), that I was tapping into a world of ghosts and creatures unknown to anyone else. Like I said I was fucking nuts.
And one interesting note scientifically about this is that the hallucinations had some repetitive aspects. There were certainly new ones all the time, but some I could predict. I would talk to them and look for them every time I did it. I eventually got so used to this state of mind I stopped fearing these hallucinations. There was a massive spider that creeped out from the side of my house and had a glowing underbelly that would illuminate my entire window. A man wearing old fashioned bi-plane wings would creep behind trees and try to sneak up on me. If I looked at tree bark it would form an image of my face. And this one was really interesting, as the image was in real time. I'd smile, it'd smile. Put my hand on my head, it'd do the same. Like a web came that displayed within tree bark. I felt at the time that I had unlocked technology in my brain that no one had access too. Like I said I was nuts.
By far the most unique and wild aspect of this hallucinatory experience was this. I'd look at the ground from above, on my porch, and the grass would follow my line of sight. So I'd move my eyes and the grass and leaves would move and follow my eyes but on the ground. Inevitably the most godlike feeling I ever had: I could move the earth with my mind! I even did a swirl to make the grass form the hillside in 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'. What caused these hallucinations I'm not sure. It didn't happen for a couple years, so I suspect it was the first signs of long-term damage. The extraction definately isn't foolproof and possibly those impurities damaged my brain somehow. In fact, I'd love to know why it happened, I'd put myself up for study just to know.
By this point in my addiction I was up to 5 cans standard a day, the weekends and random binges consisted of 7-8 cans. This continued for months, literally. It was getting very serious as you can imagine. Since my roomate was a terrible alcoholic, a truly crippling, hospitalizing affliction, I quit drinking, quit meth, quit everything. I was strung out on starting fluid and I didn't hide it. Most stores only stock about 2-3 cans at a time. I knew which stores were holding, when there trucks came in, what brand, what price. I knew the best places and the worst to cop 'my dope'. I'd find a store with a whole box under the shelf and I'd have a fit of joy. I knew all the brands, the ones to avoid, the 'Heptane Heavy' brands (I can taste a sweetness in it). Eventually one store called the law on me cause I smelled so bad they thought I was huffing in the store. I wasn't, but the beauty of a $3.00 average fix is you don't have to resort to stealing, just borrowing money and scrounging change (which I did a lot). I wasn't allowed back. Another store, I bought out so much they thought the starting fluid was being stolen and thus started putting it behind the counter. On the other hand, one heartless station went from 2 can stock to an amazing 9 can stock because they were making so much off me. No money in compassion I suppose.
In retrospect, my addiction to ether was an intense, terrible time in my life. It taught me that no drug should be taken lightly, and an addiction can happen with anything. It also caused me to lose jobs, weaken bonds within my family, lose friends, and completely lose faith in myself. I mean at the end of the day, I was addicted to Starting Fluid for Christ's sake! I went about six straight months where no one could be in my presence and not smell the fumes (trust me on this, that smell is impossible to overcome - I drank mouthwash, huffed Tag Body Spray, everything). I swear all I wrote is true as life and is meant as a warning to all. The reports I've read, while informed, didn't give the grim side of the subject and my experience is the grimmest. I know it's as uncommon as a fairy tale, but take heed. And take care.
Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the individual authors who submit them.
Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.