Throughout history, people have turned to all kinds of bizarre sources to discover the ultimate high. From salamander brandy to cobra venom, the following list of hair-raising, gag-stimulating drugs demonstrate the intensity of drug abuse and the power of addiction throughout the world.
10. Hand Sanitizer
One of the most recent among a lengthy list of inhalants, hand sanitizer reached headlines when Los Angeles hospitals admitted several teens with alcohol poisoning from drinking hand sanitizer. With the help of social media, chugging a bottle of hand sanitizer—or distilling the sanitizer to separate the alcohol from the liquid—quickly became the trendiest way to get high. Since hand sanitizer has a high alcohol concentration, the alcoholic content of distilled hand sanitizer is like a 120 proof shot, about 55 percent more potent than vodka. Learn more about standard drinks. No wonder these kids ended up in the ER.
9. Bath Salts
Bath salts are the street name for a designer drug; they could not have less in common with the epsom lavender salts sitting innocently by your bathtub. Created with recently-banned synthetic substances, this drug was packaged and sold—legally for a time—as “bath salts” both in stores and online. Although the so-called bath salts share properties with cocaine and LSD, the drug is notorious for producing paranoia, violence and bizarre behaviors among users. One woman violently attacked a “monster” in her living room, which turned out to be her mother. Another man ripped out the radar unit of a squad car with his teeth.
No, it’s not just for your cats: the stuff in catnip that makes your kitty go bonkers also produces a calming effect on humans when smoked or drunk as tea. Some users report a slightly hypnotic effect, mild euphoria, and altered perception. Although catnip has some therapeutic benefits, overdoing it may produce some nasty side effects.
Random fact: Catnip may be used as a tonic for increasing urination and starting menstrual periods in girls with delayed onset of menstruation.
7. Ayahuasca or DMT
Used by shamans in the Amazon for at least 4,000 years for visions and healing ceremonies, Ayahuasca causes hallucinogens so real its effects have been described as a “cannon to the head.” Since writer Kira Salek documented his experience using ayahuasca and how it miraculously cured his depression, foreigners have flocked to the Amazon seeking for healing from mental illnesses—including substance abuse. In fact, the business is so popular that locals wait in airport terminals shouting, “Ayahuasca! Ayahuasca!”
Also called Devil’s Breath or the zombie drug, Scopolamine is a Columbian drug that renders the victim conscious but with no free will. High doses of this drug could produce an “awake zombie state” where the victim’s mind is totally controlled, perhaps participating in rape or robbery (often of their own possessions) with no memory of it afterward.
Random fact: Scopolamine is reported to have been used by Nazi Germany as a truth serum, but it was disqualified as a truth drug in 2009 due to undesirable side effects.
5. Toad Venom
Ever wanted to squeeze a toad? Some species of toads contain certain chemicals called bufotoxins in their parotid glands—those horn-like protrusions behind its head. Squeezing these glands will produce a foamy white liquid that can be smoked like hashish or marijuana. Bufotoxins contain a mixture of some powerful stuff, including DMT, epinephrine, and serotonin—all chemicals responsible for that euphoric high. Forget about drug dealers; let’s go catch some toxin-carrying amphibian instead.
4. Scorpion Venom
Although the venom of most scorpions will just cause skin irritation and rashes, some species contain a powerful toxin that can produce heroin-like effects. No joke. Apparently, these toxins cause your brain to release a massive amount of serotonin, which is responsible for its euphoric effects. Unfortunately, the other potential effects of scorpion venom—seizures and heart failure—is preventing this practice from becoming too widespread.
Random Fact: Scorpion toxin could make cancer cells glow. Studies find the scorpion toxin can bind to brain tumor tissues, lighting them up, and allowing surgeons to distinguish the healthy cells from the bad. Clinical trials are still in process.
3. Cobra Venom
Cobra venom is a saliva cocktail of toxins that can give you an absolutely delicious high. But cobra venom is very dangerous because it also contains a chemical called Cobratoxin that causes low level paralysis, enhanced sensation, and narcotic-like effects. Once the snake is caught and killed, the venom is usually dried up and ground into powder. It can be made into a pill, mixed with alcohol and other drinks, or–yikes–consumed raw. Few are desperate enough to let a cobra bite them directly.
Random Fact: Cobra venom is very popular in places such as India where addicts pay up to $500 a pill to get their hands on it.
By far the most disturbing of all the drugs on this list, Jenkem is a hallucinogen inhalant made from fermented human waste. Made by allowing human urine and feces to ferment in a bottle with a balloon covering the opening, its effects are a cross between cocaine and LDS—a euphoric high with strong hallucinations of times past. Although there have been several reports, Jenkem use in the U.S. is either unknown or a hoax.
1. Salamander Brandy
This charming Slovenian folk recipe requires drowning a salamander in a bowl of fermenting fruits. In an effort to protect itself, the salamander produces toxic mucus from the pores in its skin. Once dead, the salamander is tossed out, and the remaining mixture of alcohol and salamander mucus is distilled into brandy. Salamander brandy has euphoric and hallucinogenic effects, increases sex drive to the point where everything in the environment seems like an erotically charged being or object. Delightful, isn’t it?