Pop Culture

Getting High on the Cheap, Demi Moore Style and Beyond

Editor's note: In no way are we suggesting any of our readers should try any of the "highs" set out in this article. Remember: This is stupid stuff.

Last week, embattled cougar Demi Moore was rushed to Sherman Oaks Hospital after a 911 call revealed that she had been high on nitrous oxide, yes whip-its, and had apparently been smoking "incense." Remember John Nova Lomax's piece on K-2 from 2010? Something like that, we gather.

Yes, the former Mrs. Ashton Kutcher and Bruce Willis, the star of '90s spankfest Striptease, the gritty G.I. Jane and girly weeper Ghost, was doing whip-its and smoking potpourri. With all the money in the world, she was getting cheap highs like a junior high kid after school. Rumors of an Adderall addiction and an I.V. of Red Bull also made the rounds. Well, not a literal I.V., but you get the idea.

The 49-year-old actress has been out and about in Hollywood looking gaunt, not at all the healthy and muscular specimen we have all been seeing on red carpets the past few years. Blame the Kutcher divorce and the stress involved. And being a 49-year-old actress in 2012, and trying to keep up in the industry.

Hearing about the whip-its and incense made me reflect on the other cheap highs that exist. The things that people turn to when they cannot afford a bag of weed or a few lines of whatever.

Researching some of the lesser known, cheap and low-brow highs out there, I discovered that some people smoke capsaicin -- you know, the naturally occurring element in peppers that makes them burn? -- by using vodka and habanero peppers to reduce it into a substance with a relaxing high.

Read that last paragraph again if you need to. And pray for our country.

Of course, there are easier ways to get your rocks off and kill brain cells than by boiling vodka and peppers. Plenty of these highs you may have tried. I myself can raise my hand sadly at trying a few. When you are young, dumb and not cool enough to know a dealer or a bad excuse for a role model...

This is not an endorsement of any of these methods, and if you are old enough to drink and/or inclined to hypothetically acquire more conventional drugs yourself, then none of these will blow your skirt up.

Most of these will destroy brain cells, possibly cause vomiting, a hospital stay and an honorary medal for the Darwin Institute, if you live through huffing gasoline.

VCR Head Cleaner

This is said to have the same effect as huffing ether off a spare rag. You experience a fleeting giddy high, akin to whip-its, and then immediately huff more. Good luck finding this stuff anywhere anymore, though.

Freon & Gas

Popularized by noted gas huffer Jesco White, the huffing of things like gasoline, lighter fluid and freon is extremely dangerous to your brain and lungs, and may lead to dancing, petty crime, beating your wife for making runny eggs, and possibly starring in your own cult documentary.

Bath Salts

Who knew that the stuff in your aunt's bathroom could make your shit zoom, bro? A line of these included MDPV (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone) in their chemical makeup. Touted by that one kid down the street, who you always assumed smashed your Christmas lights, as a low-class cocaine substitute, bath salts have been blamed for various criminal activity as of late. Last May on Hair Balls, Lomax reported on the young man who, high on bath salts, killed his neighbor's pygmy goat and was found in that very neighbor's bedroom, dressed in a bra and panties, next to the dead animal.

Agitation, paranoia, chest pain and suicidality are all side effects reportedly linked to the use of bath salts. Sounds like going through a bad breakup.

Herbal Ecstasy

Thankfully we have never had experience with herbal ecstasy, nor do we know anyone who has tried it, though this Web site seems to describe it as the next best thing next to real MDMA.

Tylenol PM

An unsung hero for those who can't get a prescription for the popular sleeping aids on the market, Tylenol PM is mostly used by depressed people to put them to sleep when they can't bear to be conscious, or by the sick and achy when the following OTC is nowhere to be found.

Caffeine Pills

When Red Bull is nowhere to be found, your Adderall connection is dry, you are too scared to do cocaine like a big kid and coffee won't cut it, your only choice is caffeine pills. NoDoz, Vivarin and Stay Awakes seem to be the most abused, along with the rich-folk pills you can find at the vitamin store. Rest in peace, real Ephedra. Thanks for helping me study, and rocking out at the punk show.

Cough Syrup

Okay, this is one I sadly can claim firsthand knowledge of, but what are you going to do when it's 1999, there are no older guys around to buy you Natural Lights, and you wanna relax after the ska show? A bottle of 'Tussin and a midnight viewing of A Clockwork Orange at the River Oaks Theatre was a rite of passage.

True, the real stuff which made Houston famous -- codeine syrup -- gives you a better high, but it's harder to come across than a bottle of Robitussin. During cold and flu season, like we all just went through, a good portion of society is in some capacity drunk off cough syrup. We have seen the tweets.


Seems like a joke, right? But people do in fact smoke nutmeg to get a buzz, even when cheap weed is at least a text or a phone call away. Inducing such varied side effects as stupor, drowsiness, delirium and sleep -- the same things that a Katherine Heigl movie does to me -- smoking nutmeg can be dangerous, owing to the poisons inside the normal kitchen staple. Hallucinations are known to occur, including the sense of being a loser lighting nutmeg on fire and inhaling it.


Yet another vice that I can say that I danced with in high school and beyond. The inhaling of nitrous oxide seizes up your vocal cords, giving you a Barry White voice for a few seconds and a lightheaded feeling that wears off after about a minute.

As a Kroger employee in the early '00s who worked in the dairy case, I had access to shipments of Reddi-Wip cans, perfect for inhaling during eight-hour shifts to break up the monotony of refilling the egg display and helping customers. To this day I blame my use of Reddi-Wip for routinely forgetting the names of people I meet, and the probable holes in my brain.


This always seemed horrific to me, with the noxious fumes burning your nostrils, and when I was around heavily aromatic glues during work projects, I gagged. Pro tip: You can't get high off breathing that white Elmer's stuff. You need to reach for the really scary stuff at Home Depot. These days you have to show some I.D. to even buy it, and rightfully so.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty