Drugs from A to Z: A Dictionary
By Richard R. Lingeman (1969)
STP [DOM (4-methyl-2,5-dimethoxy-a-methylphenethylamine), Dow Chemical Company; probably from the brand name of a motor oil additive, “scientifically treated petroleum,” which promises added power] a synthetic hallucinogenic drug chemically related to Amphetamine and Mescaline, STP achieved notoriety in the summer of 1967, when hospitals began receiving cases marked by psychotic reactions to the drug. Ten such cases were admitted in eleven days in San Francisco; one chronic psychosis and a possible death were also reported. It was believed that several thousand capsules containing the drug had been distributed free at San Francisco be-in in April or May. The capsules were described by police as white with blue spots (later a New York biweekly described them as orange).
Use of the initials was variously attributed to members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang (the motor-oil additive) and to Timothy Leary (“serenity, tranquility, and peace”). At any rate, the drug was undoubtedly real, and its effects were said to be both more dramatic and longer lasting than those of LSD, three to four days as opposed to eight to twelve hours, although it was less potent on a weight for weight basis.
The tranquilizing drug Chlorpromazine, frequently administered to calm an LSD taker who has had a panic psychotic reaction, was found to intensify and worsen adverse reactions to STP, leading some doctors to believe that STP like Chlorpromazine, resembled Atropine and hence one potentiated the other. Another report called the drug BZ, a top secret “nerve-gas” being experimented on by the army. When at last the Food and Drug Administration Bureau of Drug Abuse Control obtained samples and analyzed them, they announced it was a mescaline derivative (and hence subject to the Drug Abuse Control Amendment of 1965)
A BDAC chemist then noticed the similarity of the drug’s formula to that of an experimental drug, DOM, upon which Dow Chemical had applied for a patent. A check with the company revealed that the formulas were in fact identical. Whether STP represented the theft of Dow’s formula, a leak of supplies of the actual drug (it had been sent to some scientific investigators and was being proposed for use in mental illness), or the independent discovery of some underground chemist, could not be determined. Although some experienced users of Hallucinogens praise it, others say that it carries more risk of a psychotic reaction than any other drugs; one writer said the odds were sixty forty against a good trip.
Another writer, close to the drug underground reported that the “manufacturer” was distributing the drug free of charge. All veterans concur on the overwhelming power of STP. They speak of a maelstrom of relentless energy. “A feeling.” Said [Richard] Alpert “that its going to do it to you whether you like it or not.” The energy seems to manifest itself physically. “You feel like your body is a conductor for tens of thousands of volts,” said a user. “I was desperate for a ground.” People tripping on STP physically tremble with the energy sensation. It is a stretching, quivering, shaking experience. Many have emerged from STP with a sudden concern for physical health. “We have the need to be strong,” said one. “We need protein. The macrobiotic diet is bad news.”
The relentless rush of energy is often a frightening experience. “Acid is like being let out of a cage,” explained one user. “STP is like being shot out of a gun. There’s no slowing down or backing up. You feel like your breaks have given out.”…
A key to survival in the STP experience seems to be an ability to surrender to the energy flow of the drug. Resisting the rush or holding it back can lead, many reports, to an incredibly frustrating up-tight experience.
STP seems to lack the disorientation of acid. Although the audio and visual hallucination are vivid. A girl explained, “Everything looks like it does when your straight. Its like being on the other side of a glass wall.” There also seems to be less identity confusion than under LSD. “You know who you are,” she said. Many have found that they could easily function—make telephone calls, find cabs,--shortly after the peak of the STP experience. These things can be difficult to do after an intense LSD experience.
Another recurring report about STP is a sensation of timelessness. Alpert calls it “a totally NOW orientation.” Past and future seem to dissolve in an electric present. As time was lost, Alpert recalled, “I felt that I had lost something human. I felt that I had lost my humanity.” But the most enticing, and clearly the most disturbing aspect of STP is that, unlike LSD, it seems to have a cumulative effect. It is a long trip to begin with. The direct effects last about 14 hours, and a stoned aftermath may continue until sleep.
The next morning, many STP initiates have discovered that they still felt high, or at least “different.” It is a mild feeling, but a persistent one. Generally rated a “good” feeling it seems to last indefinitely…
Some people claim to have discovered intense telepathic powers in STP. Another curious aspect of STP, a user explained, is that at the peak of the experience you tend to think that everyone has taken the drug. He described his experience:
“I got out of the cab on St. Mark’s Place. It was three in the morning and the street was full of people, standing around. The sky was glowing, like it was flaming. I thought it was the second coming or something. I was absolutely convinced that it had just happened or would happen in seconds. And I thought everyone else knew it. How do you react when you’re convinced? I was completely stoned.”
-Don McNeil, The Village Voice (April 13, 1964)