Steamed the New Stoned?

Steamed the New Stoned?

Critic goes down the rabbit-hole of sauna drug conspiracy

Dunedin has a pretty notorious drug culture. One drop of our wastewater could show the entirety of Gloriavale a damn good time. And yet, one would be pressed to find a hardcore, “substances are a personality trait” type druggie in even your most bruising Castle St flat these days – except Boba Ket, that is. So where have these fiends flocked to? Are they all lost in god-flipped wormholes existing outside of time and space? A few might be, but as for the rest, there’s the OUSA Sauna: the potential new pinnacle of Dunedin drug culture and the latest totally real and legit conspiracy Critic has sunk our teeth into. 

You probably think that the OUSA Sauna is tame as fuck. Okay bro, talk to me once you’ve been. It’s sus as hell in there. The OUSA Sauna’s water has reportedly been laced by something as of late, which patrons are reluctant to describe, saying, “I don’t know what you’re on about.” What non-disclosure agreements have they signed, we wonder. OUSA Clubs and Socs Development Officer Jamie Leckie assured Critic Te Ārohi that, “We have a really cool group of student and non-student users that use the sauna space in a relaxed, enjoyable, and respectful manner.” 

There are no cameras in the sauna room, completely isolated from the rest of the Clubs and Socs building. The place is so private that signage in the changing room even supports nudity during a private session. It’s a vault. Perhaps the perfect place for illicit affairs – the addition of a sprig of bud, or the sprinkle of some ket in that airway-opening hot steam, perhaps? Something must be up – how else could sweating in a barrel with strangers possibly be “relaxing”? It’s like being trapped in an elevator, but roasting and everyone really wants to get naked. 

Some students have alleged that this secret drug culture goes right to the top, with Josh* (opting for anonymity) stating to Critic Te Ārohi that, “I’ve always thought the OUSA staff probably do some weird shit in that place when it’s not busy.” Though this may be partially correct, alternative evidence from Leckie suggests that this sketchy underground ring is looking to expand, telling Critic Te Ārohi, “We hope more students (and the wider Dunedin community) make use of our sauna as it provides so many health benefits.” Benefits, huh? Just like the benefits Critic Te Ārohi received from [redacted].

We’d have to investigate ourselves, it seemed. To discover what sauna users have been tainting the steam with, Critic Te Ārohi ventured into the forbidden place, hoping to last over 20 minutes in the room – or however long it would take to be indoctrinated into the occult practices of the dwellers. Okay, I say “Critic Te Ārohi” even though it was just me – but would you want mystery inhalants with your half-clothed colleagues? Actually, forget I asked. 

The door slammed shut behind me. I was alone. Was this a trap orchestrated by the OUSA powers that be? What lengths would they go to stop my investigation? And had I foolishly  played right into their hands? Almost instantly I doused myself in water, not thinking that it could have been adulterated by something more sinister! I knew shit was up when the little sauna hourglass stopped at 2.5 minutes. Time had stopped. Was I tripping? Was this what it felt like to be on drugs? Shit began to take effect around the 15 minute mark: a mellow, melty headspin, not unlike weed and ket (so I’ve heard). I felt faint and – have my hands always been that far away?

Sweating profusely, I began flapping my arms in an effort to reduce the woozyness. At 20 minutes, I got desperate and poured the rest of the water over myself, and fuck it felt good. Sweet relief only tarred by the realisation that there would be ten more sweltering, waterless minutes to suffer. In this time, I felt I’d experienced every bodily extreme known to man. Should I have brought gum? 

Following the harrowing experience, Critic Te Ārohi exited the sauna only to find an instruction manual which read: “Essential Oil Tip: Share the Aroma Love, But Ask First!” I had managed to gaslight myself into believing my own far-fetched conspiracy that OUSA staff were lacing the sauna with a potent drug cocktail when it was, in fact, only being spiked by essential oils and my own apparent dehydration. Don’t fall down that rabbit hole. 

The sauna-additive culture purportedly derives from Scandinavian examples where people have been known to infuse sauna water with garlic. It was reported to Critic Te Ārohi that the most commonly used OUSA Sauna essential oil is eucalyptus, but there have been a few examples of individuals arriving with pepper mixes and other such spices (which honestly shouldn’t be leaving the kitchen shelf). 

Though rumours of the underground sauna drug culture have been temporarily dismissed, Critic Te Ārohi is on the hunt for any signs that things may be more sinister than they seem. Not literal signs though – we didn’t read those, clearly. 

This article first appeared in Issue 7, 2024.
Posted 12:57pm Sunday 14th April 2024 by Hugh Askerud.