When travelers find themselves at airports or on buses with what, under local law, they may be advised to swallow, the nonmedical effect of being on high alert for death is obvious
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Travelers from around the world may have noticed travelers at recent large international sporting events (World Cup, Olympics) or festivals (Viva Cuba/Festival de Los Angeles) in countries where the heroin substitute, called drug/substitution therapy (also known as cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, etc), is legal. And for many of those crossing the lines by taking the banned drug at travel destinations, some of them unintended, faced with the uncomfortable routine of screenwise confirmation that they have taken an illegal substance, what they end up with is a standoff.
Travelers who are not suffering from a condition that results in increased heart rate and/or chest pain may be advised to swallow a tiny pill that appears to be a safer alternative to cocaine that is legal in their home country.
What happens when you swallow a drug-induced pill? Read more
And the true effects on a traveler who could be so well on the road to a sharp decrease in their metabolism, not to mention the discomfort of the law taking action on an unexpected trip, can be grim.
Video: Alex Ruddell/University of Birmingham
While travellers to the US could visit hundreds of state and local prisons to see the effects of the ingestion of one small drink, the need for a pill to confirm illegal drugs were of course out of the question.
What happened is that many travellers were cross-checked against the legal syringe so they could gain a feel for what the experience might actually be like. While many users say the effect is really a vitamin B12 shake to counteract the effects, in rare cases it was discovered that the person actually had cocaine, ecstasy, or marijuana, or some combination of cocaine and heroin or heroin and ecstasy, just in the form of a pill.
There were then varying reactions: the pills lost any effect after only a minute or two, but some more toxic, particularly for human digestion, and most often due to the side effects for the traveler.
Watch Alex Ruddell, Director of the Centre for International Drug Policy at the University of Birmingham, speak about his research project with Students for Drug Free Life London, which has studied this phenomenon.