I have to admit I’m somewhat surprised that the Denver City Council has adopted a “save the children while grown-ups can get fucked” platform. With their recent passage of a bill that would restrict the availability of soda, juices, and other sugary drinks to children in the city’s restaurants—all while turning a blind eye to the fact that narcotic-based frankenchemicals are easily available at almost any smoke shop in the metropolis—what other message could the council be sending?

Though the bill allows for sodas to still technically be available, council members are hoping that by restricting their visibility, it will help curb the proliferation of diabetes in children. I guess they forgot that Colorado has the nation’s lowest diabetes rate; 8.1% as of 2022.

It seems they also forgot that one of the most dangerous chemicals I’ve ever come across was still insanely easy to get and was far more in need of regulation than a can of root beer.

About a year ago I wrote an exposé covering a chemical that is readily available in smoke shops statewide going by the name of “potions.” It’s a capsule that is being sold to people as an all-natural “super kratom,” when in fact it’s a deadly combination of neurological medications like tianeptine mixed with benzodiazepines. During my research, I interviewed a former addict, spoke to various employees of the aforementioned smoke shops about the drug, and eventually took it myself. And in every case, there was nothing but terrible danger.

Since the article was published, I’ve received a lot of emails from people who were addicted to potions that all had a tragic story to tell. In each case, they told me the article I had written was literally the only information they could find online about this drug that had consumed their life. Because of these revelations, I wanted to interview one of the people who had reached out in an attempt to help further shine a light on this soul-crushing mega mind-fuck of a drug.

Nyssa, a mom who lives in Fort Collins, first became addicted to potions in September of 2023 when she was working with her doctor to come off her seizure medications. Her initial plan to help with the withdrawals was to take kratom—a plant-based pain-killing medicine that she had used before with much success. I had to stop taking my seizure medication and I wondered if kratom would help with the withdrawals. My doctors told me that [stopping my medication] was going to disrupt my mood badly, and it scared me, I was afraid to stop taking it.”

She continued, “So, I knew about kratom and was going to use it. I went to the shop and said, ‘I want to get some kratom, I used to be on it, I used to take it a decade ago to help me get off Percocet.’ The dude at the counter said, ‘These are the best right here, these little black bottles.’ And I just took them.”

Nyssa knew almost immediately that she was hooked. “I would say, [it took] probably a week [to become addicted]. The first day or two I felt alright. After that I noticed a difference; like, I would take one and it would only last for, like five minutes and that’s it. And then it would be HORRIBLE after that.”

“It was the saddest place I’ve ever been. I’m pretty aware of addiction, so I stay away from things that can get me addicted. But to fall into something so quickly, so fast, and I [said] I can’t buy this crap anymore because it’s making me feel worse. And at that point, I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know who made it; I thought it was kratom and I thought I was going crazy.”

Nyssa admitted that “going crazy” was the least of her concerns when it came to potion’s side effects—suicidal ideation would take the top spot. “I’m not the happiest person in the world, but I’ve never wanted to off myself, really. And I don’t throw those words around lightly, but, it got there. It was hopeless, I felt completely hopeless. And I’ve never wanted to [commit suicide] in my entire life. I’ve never felt that bad, that low, that alone. I don’t know what kind of chemistry it changes in your brain, but whatever it is, I would compare it to the Devil.”

With how quickly her addiction and withdrawals had escalated, Nyssa became terrified and knew she needed to make a change. “I knew at that point [I had to quit]. I was downing about [20 pills] a day, maybe even more. I knew there were issues after a month. [I was thinking] ‘What the fuck am I doing?’ I was just getting worse and worse.”

And when she tried to quit, she found every negative side effect increased to the point of consuming her. “It wasn’t physically as bad as quitting like opiates from back in the day, but it was the worst mental state I’ve ever been in my life, hands down.” She said this form of withdrawal lasted “a couple of weeks, a month maybe.”

She made it clear that for anyone struggling with potions like she did, the best thing to invest in would be “community. Find some connections. It was the most alone I’ve ever felt; I think that was the worst part. Building a support group around you and having a community around you. I don’t want anyone to commit suicide because of this.”

Though the entire process of her addiction and recovery lasted less than six months, it forever changed her. When I asked her what she would say to anyone thinking about trying potions, her answer was emphatic. “Run! Honestly I considered just like, waiting at the front register of the [local] college shop, wait for people to buy it and tell them ‘It’s not going to end well for anyone who takes that, that’s crazy!’ And [the owners] have to know [what they’re selling] by now. I’ve went into multiple shops and I try to tell them—they just don’t want to hear it, they don’t give a shit.”

It’s clear that not only has the Denver City Council dropped the ball when it comes to keeping this ghoulish beast of a substance at bay, but every state legislator has as well. With our city leaders being preoccupied with preventing Little Johnny’s awareness of the availability of apple juice at the restaurant his parents reluctantly dragged him out to during their date night due to the lack of a sitter, it seems our lawmakers’ plates are full.

Sadly, it appears that one of two things will need to occur before we see any serious action when it comes to restricting potions. Either we use our voices and written word with enough gusto as to force the higher-ups in the state to take notice. Or, enough people commit suicide while trying to rid their bodies of this frankenchemical that the lawmakers are forced to enact legislation.

I truly hope the first option works. If it doesn’t, then Nyssa’s words of “it’s not going to end well for anyone” will become the most presciently grim warning I’ve ever come across.