Standing by a bench near Pushkin Square in downtown Moscow, Ilya put a small chunk of a green substance into the end of a cigarette and lit up. What immediately followed was 15 minutes of disorientation and disembodiment, like getting dead drunk and losing control over your speech and movements.
This was “spice,” a smoking mixture made from spraying marijuana-mimicking designer drugs on innocuous herbs. Two years after the night that Ilya smoked it in a cigarette with friends near Pushkin Square, he died at the age of 35 from an overdose of vodka, heroin, and spice in the apartment he shared with his mother and brother. Ilya’s brother, who was smoking spice with him that night, is now in hospital for drug detoxification.