Tales From A Sukhumvit Pharmacy: Proceed At Your Peril

A man walks into a pharmacy with a headache and comes out with acute anxiety, anger issues, a predisposition for spouting interminable claptrap to anyone who’ll listen, and an erection that just will not quit.

An interesting little turn of events, no?

Well, given that the chemist in question was located on a Bangkokian sub soi and the proprietor of said venue had the scruples of a ham and cheese omelet, you might be able to empathise. This may have happened to somebody you know. This may even have happened to you.

All I know is that this should probably stop happening.


Acute anxiety is brought about by way of Alprazolam, or Xanax, as it’s more commonly known. Xanax is prescribed in measured doses for people afflicted with stress disorders, panic attacks and anxiety. It works very well, recalibrating chemicals in the brain which have become unbalanced. There is little doubt that, when prescribed correctly, Xanax is a useful drug.

There is also little doubt that when taken recreationally – as it often is in Bangkok – it has the potential to really ruin your evening. I mean, positively Fuck. It. Up.

I once knew a chap who developed a taste for these little purple pills – dispensed from Khun Sombat’s very own pez of pain and peril.

He’d just finished a week of light to moderate toil at a district primary school and was keen to celebrate his downtime by attaining an extreme level of intoxication. It started in the usual fashion: a few large Leos with a couple of colleagues and a game of pool or two. Several drinks into the evening he decided to complement his beer buzz with two milligrams of Xanax.

Game over.

He came to the following morning in a hut. Yes, an actual hut; the centrepiece of which was the threadbare, piss-stained mattress which supported his now naked form. His clothes were neatly folded in the corner of the room and, upon inspection of his pockets and bag, he noted with a wince that everything was gone – from his Acer netbook to his very last baht of change.

To make matters exponentially worse, from beneath the sheets on the mattress he made out the minutest of shuffles which was followed by an enquiry voiced in a blood-curdling rasp:

“Bpai nai, teerak?”

The covers fell back to reveal a gentleman sporting a rather alluring frock. Unfortunately, it was with this very same gentleman that he had made sweet love to last night — but now, in the cold light of day, he ran. He put his clothes on and he ran. He also shelved the Xanax – and so the anxiety began…


Anger issues are a byproduct of the misuse of Diazepam. Also known as Valium, the drug falls under the benzodiazepine umbrella and, like Xanax, is used to treat panic and anxiety as well as alcohol withdrawal.

Usually available in 5 or 10mg tablets, Valium has proven a successful pharmaceutical when prescribed by qualified medical practitioners. But when dished out like Smarties by someone whose CV is more barren than the Gobi desert… well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

I once knew a chap who developed a taste for these little blue pills – apportioned by Khun Waraporn in her little shop of horrors. He was quite simply a delightful fellow. On a scale of 1 to 10 on the geniality chart, this man scored a strong 9.5. Hailing from Sweden, his English was, as expected, superb, and his build that of a Nordic titan with arms the circumference of oil barrels. He drank heavily but remained serene and cordial at all times.

Until, that is, the fateful day when he popped into the pharmacy for some aspirin, and instead ended up popping a small factory’s worth of Valium.

For several weeks he would supplement his evening ale with one pill, two pills, three pills, four. Initially this only proved to heighten his cheerful demeanour, and the laughs were relentless.

But slowly, over the course of a month or so, he morphed into what can only be described as the scariest person in the whole wide world. His chuckles became snarls, his jokes turned into jibes, his temper hung by an ever-fraying thread – he went from devil-may-care to the devil himself.

The last I saw of my Swedish friend was in the back of a police truck. His infraction? Destroying a bar, a whole bar – optics an’ all.


A predisposition for spouting interminable claptrap to anyone who’ll listen can be found in a jar of diet pills.

Yes, diet pills.

Manufactured in a variety of different incarnations, these highly-revered tablets do exactly what they say on the tin: they will, let there be no dispute, help you lose weight. However, their success can be largely attributed to the fact that each dose contains a small quota of amphetamine. 

I once knew a lass who developed a taste for these little black nuggets – allotted by Khun Somporn’s own greedy hand. She was a lovely lady, as intelligent as they come and downright pretty to boot.

But she had a niggling fear.

A fear that one day age would find her out and she’d balloon into obesity. This was an ill-founded worry. Existing on a diet of papaya salad and sticky rice, she was already stones under a healthy weight. When it was announced one day that Dr. Death up the road had a new consignment of Dexedrine she couldn’t eat them fast enough. She quickly pared down to her skeletal form, a virtual shadow of her former self – but a chatty one.

I haven’t seen her in a long time. I hope she’s OK.


An erection that just won’t quit doesn’t come easy to most men past their mid-thirties, but this can be amended, if you so wish, with a sachet of Kamagra gel. This cheap alternative to Viagra is sold to treat erectile dysfunction and is readily available in a host of Thai pharmacies. However, with a whole gamut of possible side effects it would be wise to seek professional advice before consuming.

But when in Rome…

I once knew a chap who had a taste for these little sachets of love goo – distributed by Khun ‘Cupid’ Jamlong in his sordid store of debauchery.

After purchasing a batch which he thought to be sub-standard one evening, he subsequently doubled, then trebled up on his usual intake and waited eagerly for the rapture.

Nothing happened.

He retired that evening beaten and bereft, cursing the spent sachets in the bin. The following morning, however, when he was stirred from slumber by his own penis poking him in the eye, he reasoned, quite rightly, that they weren’t as bad as initially thought.

As he hustled through the melee of early-morning commuters on the BTS, he was aware his trousers now harboured a weapon of mass destruction – I mean, the guy had a fucking battering ram in his pants.

At the office, the beast was still yet to be placated – this was becoming a little worrying, and now, as he ate lunch in the canteen, surrounded by his colleagues, it was all he could do to conceal his acute state of arousal.

Home time couldn’t come soon enough and in the evening, somewhere around the sixteenth hour of rigidity, things began to go beautifully floppy. It had been, in his own words, “the boner from hell”.


Far be it from me to encourage healthy and wholesome habits, but the above tales are cautionary.

Don’t do it. Any of it. Avoid the pharmacies and definitely don’t combine their wares with alcohol. Get on your bike or buy a pair of running shoes instead.

You’re a long way from home — stay fit, stay healthy, stay happy.


Featured image is via Organics.org



About Author

A connoisseur of larb moo and lau khao, Steve Edwards spent 14 years in the Siamese underbelly. He's currently licking his wounds in London, preparing to step back into the breach... Follow him on Twitter @isaansteve

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