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Do You Buy Drugs Online?

Illustration for article titled Do You Buy Drugs Online?

Sure, there are a few valid-ish reasons for why some individuals buy their pills over the Internet.

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Certain drugs are cheaper in, say, Canada. Others can be embarrassing to ask a doctor for or pick up from the pharmacy, like, say, Viagra. There is also the ease with which otherwise difficult to acquire drugs can be illegally "prescribed" by over-the-Internet "MDs" and sent airmail to your home, no questions asked.

By this point, we should all be at least aware that spammy Web pharmacies are a money-sucking sham at best and a hugely dangerous and untrustworthy resource at worst.

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That said, do you buy from these Pillz-4-Cheap websites?

Image via ajt/Shutterstock

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DISCUSSION

Gizmodo_Regular
Gizmodo_Regular

I created a burner account for this post because I wish to remain anonymous, for reasons that will likely become clear. I have been an on-and-off drug addict for my entire adult life and most of my teenage years. I am now coming up on two years clean and have no plan on returning. Online pharmacies became the primary and, with few exceptions, sole source of my drugs during the last few years of my addiction.

To begin with, I should note that when it comes to buying drugs I am a complete moron. When attempting to buy drugs “on the street” I have been scammed, ripped-off, taken advantage of, and stolen from in nearly every way possible – and this behavior carried over to online buying as well. And I’m actually quite vigilant and suspicious when it comes to watching out for that stuff in other areas of life. It’s just that all caution goes out the window when I’m faced with the prospect of scoring drugs. Addiction is a powerful thing.

I think my first attempt was buying codeine straight out of a spam-email pharmacy. I even used a credit card. Prior to this I had read an article about a study that attempted to buy pills from a bunch of spam emails, and found that almost all of them actually sold what they were purporting. Apparently this was one of the exceptions. I got a few emails back from the seller, trying to string me along, but eventually I did a chargeback. Just said it was for some supplement I never got and nobody asked any more questions. I got my money back.

Feeling quite embarrassed about that, I started searching around more on the web and discovered an online forum devoted to reviewing online pharms. I quickly joined and would become one of the regulars there. From there I eventually conversed with others who got me in on more private, invitation-only forums where you could find out about and share some of the more elite “back-room” sellers. I don’t think I was ever scammed online again after discovering those forums.

At the beginning, I started buying Tramadol, or Ultram. It’s a very weak semi-narcotic painkiller that can give a little codeine-type buzz to someone who is not tolerant to opiates. Most addicts would pass that one up, but at the time I hadn’t been using opiates on a regular basis for quite some time and it was better than nothing. Tramadol also became my choice opiate for preventing withdrawals since it was relatively cheap and easy to come by.

Tramadol is something like Schedule 4 or even lower – it’s about the same status as Viagra. Therefore you could buy it from a U.S. based online pharmacy that had you fill out a questionnaire ("I have back and shoulder pain”) and then they fed-exed your bottle of pills overnight. Easy. Seemingly legal. Eventually I would be using several of those pharmacies on a rotating basis because I could not make it last through a month to be eligible to get a new script.

At least one of them sold my phone number (not sure why I used the real one, but I thought it was needed in case of shipping problems) to some sleazy telemarketer who would call and tell me I was eligible for a refill. They would call almost every day – I eventually jailbroke my iPhone and blocked their calls, but once in a while one still gets through, even years later!

The next step was the overseas pharmacies. I would buy DHC from the UK (this is somewhere in between codeine and Vicodin). Valium, Xanax, and Klonipin from all over Eastern Europe and the Middle-East. This was getting into certainly more illegal territory now. I started to become more nervous when going to get the mail. None of these places could overnight anything, but using a combination of the forums and trial-and-error, it became easy to pin down the places with the lowest costs and fastest ship times.

Did I ever get counterfeit drugs from these places? Honestly I don’t know. I know that they contained the correct chemicals and active ingredients, and that was all I cared about. Eventually I would always get name-brand because it seemed to be the most consistent – not every country has the same standards as U.S. for generic pills — but there certainly could have been counterfeit name-brand drugs there. The rumor mills talk about all sorts of weak or bad pills on the forums, or of name brand this being better than generic, even from CVS. But I never experienced any of that. I think more likely placebo effects even work in reverse for some people.

Schedule 2 drugs like Oxycodone or Adderall were impossible to find in those places. However, there was one place from SE Asia that began shipping “Dexedrine.” Took more than a month to arrive each time. This was the one case where it actually seemed like it was manufactured in some basement. Whatevs. Good enough, but that was too expensive and shipping was too long to keep up more than a couple times.

However, as a general rule any of these places purporting to sell Schedule 2 were just a scam.

The overseas pharms normally used some kind of payment processor – like PayPal but much smaller-time. Was easy enough to order, jump through a few browser hoops to pay, and then wait.

For me, the final stop was what the forums referred to as B.I.s. Blatantly Illegal pharms. These were usually set up with some cheap, crappy template website with nothing more than a list of prices and an email address. They all used very similar templates and procedures.

You basically email them and get a response from a hushmail account that requires you to login and read it there. After being around the block once or twice, you catch on and start using your own hushmail account also and then get quicker responses from new people. The websites are constantly changing, but business is done through email so after an initial order you normally go back to the same person unless you don’t get a response when you want one. Then it’s back to the forums, asking around and trying out a new one.

There are enough of the B.I.s to get something overnighted whenever you want. Or at least there were 2 years ago, not sure if anything has changed since then. It kind of seemed like they were all run by the same organization. Prices were not cheap. Shipping alone was $50 for overnight. And that’s the only way they sent it.

The B.Is were the places where you got real Schedule 2. Oxycontin, MS Contin, Roxicodone. And anything schedule 3 you needed overnight: vikes, percs, Xanax, all the big ones. By this point I was pretty hard-core — crushing up roxies and injecting with water.

Anyway, after a few emails you would get the name of a payment receiver in Mexico. You’d go to a Western Union and ask to send to Mexico, fill out the info and give them your cash. Then email back the MTCN and you’d usually have everything by the next day as long as you got the order in by noon. I would get a bit paranoid and would try to go to different Western Unions so I didn’t become recognizable. Once in a while someone would ask questions (they have some stock questions to try to prevent fraud) and I’d say yes I knew the person and I was sending it to a friend to help them out, etc. Of course, after this I’d always be unable to pronounce the name on the first try!

Getting the mail when you have a B.I. shipment starts becoming taxing on your stomach. You kind of flinch waiting for the police to jump out from behind the corner. You even watch out the window for a minute before going to get the mail. This was getting on some pretty serious crime by now.

One time the shipper spelled the name of my street wrong and I had to go to UPS to pick it up that night. I was probably visibly shaking while I waited for a half-hour in the small, crowded office for my street’s name to get called. But the package came, and I picked it up and went home. Sigh of relief. This is the last time, I told myself, I have too much to lose. But it would not be the last time.

I never ended up getting arrested, which I’m eternally grateful for. In a way, buying from these places is way more dangerous than buying from a drug dealer. No matter how many fake names or anonymous payments you make, you are still getting something shipped directly to you, and are creating paper trails. No way around that.

Anyway, that’s my long-winded story and experience with online pharms. And I’m honestly glad to be done with it. I’m happy to answer questions as well.

Thanks