car trip pills
June 12, 2006 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Driving from Atlanta to Minnesota over two days and I'm looking for some magic pills which helped me stay alert.

Last summer, a friend gave me some "trucker pills" for a 30-hour, 2-day drive, which helped me to stay alert for the duration. Based on the good experience of those, I'm looking to see if others have experience in OTC pills which help you stay alert during long drives (going from Atlanta to Minnesota in two days). I've read past posts about peppermint mints and will try those. I know they weren't caffeine pulls as I've used those in the past.
note: It's not a matter of staying awake- I've done this drive a few times already, but I noticed a marked positive difference taking whatever my friend gave me and I'd like to have them for future use.
posted by jmd82 to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The pills your friend gave you were probably ephedrine pills, sometimes called cross-tops or mini-thins. They used to be quite widely available at gas station counters throughout the south, although I'm not sure what the legislation is like on them now. Pseudophed will give you the same (although a lower) effect.
posted by OmieWise at 11:37 AM on June 12, 2006

Honestly, why fuck around with herbs and just buy some coke?

Seriously - at least we know whats in cocaine and it's effects on your short/long term health. This stuff thats chopped up and put in these things isn't evaluated by anyone, and can be seriously deadly if you don't watch it.

Do the other drivers on the road a favor and do one of the following:

2)Take an extra day and SLEEP.
3)Don't go.

Each of these give greater odds of you not maiming someone because you were either cracked out or fell asleep at the wheel.
posted by plaidrabbit at 11:40 AM on June 12, 2006

They are harder to find in Metro Atlanta, once you get into TN, they will start being easier to find. They eased up on the legislation somewhat in GA, so just look in the case beside the cashier they will say "mini-thins" or something like that, check the label you are looking for ephedrine as noted above. Ephedrine also has the effect of making eating seem like a gross proposition, eat before it will make the pills less likely to irritate your stomach and be sure to stay hydrated. Pee breaks will keep you awake better anyhow!
posted by stormygrey at 11:49 AM on June 12, 2006

Are you sure the pills your friend gave you were OTC? They sound like amphetamine to me.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:28 PM on June 12, 2006

I was going to post about something a *much younger* version of me once took to stay up and drive straight from South Dakota to DC then I realized how ashamed I am and what an incredibly stupid stupid thing it was to do.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:30 PM on June 12, 2006

PS. Later that year, I drove from DC to Seattle without drugs. I drove constantly, stopping for eight hours' sleep once after the first 14 hours and made the trip in two days. Atlanta to Minnesota is something an unenhanced/unimpaired human mind can easily do.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:32 PM on June 12, 2006

I think it would be best if you just took some crystal meth.
You will have no problems with sleep for a looooong time.
posted by grex at 12:43 PM on June 12, 2006

Steven C. Den Beste writes "Are you sure the pills your friend gave you were OTC? They sound like amphetamine to me."

Ephedrine pills, which are not herbal at all, but manufactured and far less likely to have extraneous crap in them than cocaine bought off the street, are also commonly called "Trucker's Speed." The pills are legal. They are also related to amphetamine, which is why pseudophed is so often bought to manufacture meth with.
posted by OmieWise at 1:02 PM on June 12, 2006

The FDA announced a ban on ephedra a time back and I assumed it was in place.

Atlanta to Minneapolis is 1100 miles. That's 20 hours at 55 mph - I don't think that needs special pills.

I would stick with caffeine.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:18 PM on June 12, 2006

I'd recommend large quantities of caffinated beverages, they will keep you awake, and have the benefit of making you stop every couple of hours to go to the bathroom. Getting out of the car and walking around for 5 minutes will do wonders for you on a long trip.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:24 PM on June 12, 2006

Yeah, again, ephedrine is not ephedra.
posted by OmieWise at 1:25 PM on June 12, 2006

Among men in their 20s, car wrecks are the number one leading cause of accidental death. Be careful. Sleep if you need to. Don't become a statistic just because some self-imposed deadline seems important to you now.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:06 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

(In the US, I should say)
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:07 PM on June 12, 2006

ya know, the op doesn't sound like he's going on some all night drug binge/drive: he just wants to take something to keep him alert when he drives. the last couple of road trips i was on, i took one of my kid's adderalls. did wonders for keeping me alert ... and i got a good night's sleep every night. i'd recommend the 'trucker speed' several others have suggested to anyone that needs to stay alert for long drives.
posted by lester at 2:16 PM on June 12, 2006

Response by poster: lester has it: I'm staying in a hotel about 1/2 through for the night to sleep. It's not a matter of staying awake- it's just being more alert. And I hate drinking caffeine because I have small enough blatter the way it is and nothing annoys me more in car rides than having to pee!
From the sound of it, he got the "Trucker's speed" with aphedrine. Thanks!
posted by jmd82 at 2:27 PM on June 12, 2006

jmd: Let me appologize for my harsh tone, then. It did sound as if you were about to drive 20 hrs straight, and while I've been guilty of it in the past (we've all been young and dumb), it gives me the jitters to think how completely unfit to drive I was around hours 12-14.

Picking up on the comment re: TN being looser about their 'trucker speed' laws - buy the least you can. I don't know if you would plan on stocking up if you found exactly what you wanted and found a good deal, but buying the legal limit in the smaller towns in TN is a good way to get pulled over after the 'good citizen' reports you to the local Barney Fife thinking they're busting a meth ring.
posted by plaidrabbit at 3:28 PM on June 12, 2006

And I hate drinking caffeine because I have small enough bladder...

Nodoz tablets contain 200 mg of caffeine. That's less than a "venti" Starbucks of most kinds.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:53 PM on June 12, 2006

Ephedra's status is a little ambiguous. The FDA banned it in 2004. A federal court sort of overturned the ban in 2005 -- as a result, the plantiff in that case, and maybe others, could apparently legally sell something with a daily dose of under 10 mg of ephedra, though the plaintiff has declined to do so, pending the results of the FDA's appeal. The FDA is still busting people for higher doses, though in one case had to give the seized ephedra back. The FDA's appeal started last month. I see no news regarding the appeal, so I assume it's ongoing.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 3:59 PM on June 12, 2006

I hear that Modafinil is good for keeping you awake with little in the way of side effects. It's sold as an anti-narcolepsy medication.
posted by tomble at 4:05 PM on June 12, 2006

The air force used to give its bomber pilots dextroamphetamine to stay awake and alert for the 18+ hours in a row needed in surveillance/nuclear patrol flights. It can have some negative psychological side-effects, so don't abuse it.

Alternatively, there's Modafinil (Provigil™), which produces similar results but is far less stressful on your system.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:08 PM on June 12, 2006

ephedrine may still be found in OTC asthma medicines.
posted by Megafly at 4:39 PM on June 12, 2006

When you're heading north on I-75, getting near Chattanooga, start looking for the billboards that say STINGER. They're little black and yellow pills that look like yellow jackets. I've never taken one, but they advertise them for truckers.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:19 PM on June 12, 2006

Here's what I've done, as recently as this spring, when I drove 14 hrs/900 miles to pick up my son at college, slepped for a few hours and then turned right back around and did it again:

I drove until my eyes started going a little crazy... you know, when you can't fix them on the road in front of you and they want to look anywhere else but?

When I get to that point, I find a safe place to pull over. I drive with CDs in the car, so I pull over and simply close my eyes for 2-3 songs (depending on the album and how long the songs are). I find that 10 minutes of eye rest generally gives me 2-4 hours of road time before my eyes start to go buggy again.

For me it isn't so much about my brain getting tire, just my eyes.
posted by Doohickie at 7:11 PM on June 12, 2006

When you're looking at supplements keep in mind that some things that sound exotic and herbal are really just old standbys.

These are basically just caffeine: Guarana, maté, cola nut, green tea

These are essentially ephedra: Ma huang, Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), Country mallow, heart leaf (Sida cordifolia)

I believe the difference between ephedra and ephedrine is that ephedra is the herb (currently banned in the US) and ephedrine is the active ingredient (which is still out there, usually called ma huang). Ephedrine has similarities to methamphetamines, but not as potent. Wikipedia link.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:01 PM on June 12, 2006

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