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Spiderhead: Is Darkenfloxx A Drug In Real Life?

Netflix's 2022 psychological thriller "Spiderhead" (based on George Saunders' short story "Escape from Spiderhead") centers around a luxury prison called Spiderhead, where inmates are forced to participate in drug trials for the tyrannical Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth). These incredibly powerful drugs include N-40 (a "love drug" that forces anybody who injects it to immediately fall in love with whoever is around them), B-6 (a "compliance drug" that forces the user to obey all commands), and the horrific "Darkenfloxx," which induces psychological distress, immense fear, and has been known to drive users insane.

Because much of the story revolves around Abnesti's use of Darkenfloxx on his patients (and the terrible effects that those patients endure), there are no doubt plenty of concerned viewers out there who wonder whether or not this terrifying drug actually exists. Luckily, Darkenfloxx is completely fictional and was invented solely for the original short story by George Saunders — though there are several real-life drugs that are capable of replicating its torturous effects ... at least to some degree.

Darkenfloxx technically has no real world equivalent

Although "Darkenfloxx" may not actually exist in the real world, there are plenty of real drugs that can induce anxiety, depression, and paranoia similar to (though not as drastic as) the effects that Darkenfloxx has on the inmates of Spiderhead. It's well known that psychoactive drugs like LSD can generate terrifying hallucinations (referred to most often as a "bad trip"), induce a heightened state of fear, and cause drug-induced psychosis.

It's also well documented that other drugs like PCP and "Bath Salts" have sent people on psychotic episodes of violence and self-harm, similar to the way that Darkenfloxx affects one inmate named Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett) near the end of the film. As terrifying as it might be to know that the inspiration for the effects of Darkenfloxx is rooted in real-life substances, it's worth noting that Darkenfloxx is somehow able to produce all of these horrific effects simultaneously — and was seemingly produced solely for the purpose of causing immense emotional and physical distress.

As such, there isn't truly a real-world equivalent to the horror drug known as Darkenfloxx, and "Spiderhead" fans can rest assured that nobody will be dosing them with this terrible substance in the real world.