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5 most bizarre substances people use to get high

With drugs like bath salts, spice, flakka, mephedrone and others, the landscape of drug use is becoming more and more cluttered


Drugs like the confiscated vials of flakka pictured above are changing the landscape of drug use.

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Drug use has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. When I first started 26 years ago, people were using meth, cocaine, heroin, weed, or PCP. Since the advent of the Internet, with instant communication and websites dedicated to spreading the word on some of the more fringe drugs, we see some bizarre things that people have used to get high.

Nowadays, someone can get high using household products, post about it on any number of drug user websites like this one or this one. With drugs like bath salts, spice, flakka, mephedrone and others, the landscape of drug use is becoming more and more cluttered.

Here are five of the weirdest substances people use to get high and what officers can expect to find if they encounter any of these users

1. Nutmeg

Yes, this is the same nutmeg that you find in your spice rack and it’s classified as a hallucinogen. In the United States, it is mainly used as a spice. However, in other cultures, nutmeg is used for everything from Arab doctors using it for digestive disorders, kidney disease and lymphatic ailments to Yemeni men using it to increase and maintain their sexual vigor.

Effects can take between two and seven hours to come on, depending on how recently the last meal was eaten and the primary effects of a full dose of nutmeg can last up to 24 hours. More minor secondary effects can continue for up to 72 hours. Most users report that they feel strong effects for 10-15 hours regularly.

Users take it by can spooning it into their mouth or mixing it with a drink and swallowing it. Many users report a dream-like state while high due to hallucinations they can see, hear and feel.

2. Toad Licking

Users are not actually licking a toad, but there is such a thing as getting high off of a toad. The skin and poison of Bufo alvarius (Colorado River toad or Sonoran Desert toad) contain 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin, which both belong to the family of hallucinogenic tryptamines. Because of these substances, the skin or poison of the toads may produce psychoactive effects when ingested.

Users “milk” the glands of the toad onto a mirror. When it is dry, the user can either take it orally or smoke it. Users who use this drug will have symptoms consistent with a hallucinogenic drug, and many report being high anywhere between one and eight hours.

3. Scopolamine

Scopolamine originates naturally in some plants, but has also been synthesized to put into some medications. Most people who abuse scopolamine find it in natural plants like henbane, jimson weed (Datura), angel’s trumpets (Brugmansia), and corkwood (Duboisia).

Scopolamine is found in certain medicines that treat motion sickness, gastrointestinal spasms and irritable bowel syndrome.

The drug, when abused, will show effects of someone under the influence of a hallucinogen. The user will hallucinate, have dilated pupils and a fast pulse. It is possible to overdose on this drug and it is possible to become addicted.

4. Jenkem

Jenkem has to be the most disgusting drug on the list. Essentially, the user is said to inhale methane emanated from human feces and urine. Yeah, huffing poop.

This is rarely done, but it is a topic of some rumor nonetheless.

In 2007, a sheriff’s office in Florida disseminated an internal bulletin outlining jenkem use, including how users get high. Unfortunately, that bulletin was leaked to the press and was published across the United States.

The DEA reports no incidents in the U.S. of jenkem use, but it has been reportedly used in Africa by youth looking for a high. Several organizations struggled to find one single case of jenkem use in the United States, but found none.

5. Freon

The same freon that is in your air conditioner can be used to get high. To get the freon, users will take a trash bag, release the safety valve on the air conditioner and the freon is released into the bag. The users inhale the Freon from the bag directly.

Freon is classified as an inhalant, but users will report very vivid hallucinations. There have been reports of children dying who huff freon, including a 12-year-old girl in Victorville, California. Many users report that it is the worst high that they have experienced and warn against its use.


So there you have it. I’m sure that this list will change over time as people find more and more ways to get high. I have not seen anything like it since starting drug enforcement 26 years ago. From ‘research chemicals’ to natural highs like some mentioned above, we have definitely moved on from the traditional street drugs. It makes you wonder what new highs are on the horizon.

Keith is a retired Police Sergeant who worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for 29 years. He was named as California’s Narcotics Officer of the Year and is a prior winner of MADD’s California Hero Award. He has years of experience as a Narcotics Detective and a Narcotics Unit Supervisor and is a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor (IACP #3292). He has developed several drug courses for the California Narcotics Officers Association, California POST and California Colleges, and currently consults POST on drug investigation procedures. Keith has taught thousands of officers and businesses around the world about drug use, drug trends, compliance training and drug investigations. He is recognized as an international drug expert and has testified as an expert in court proceedings on drug cases, homicide cases and rape prosecutions. Keith is the Founder and President of Graves & Associates, a company dedicated to providing drug training to law enforcement and private industry. Keith is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.