Pakistan’s weird addiction

Necessity is the mother of invention they say – and what a bizarre offspring this mom has produced. Since drives against mainstream narcotics such as opium and heroin, and highly abused drugs like cough syrup, has shown some success in Pakistan’s urban areas, addicts have turned to smoking scorpions for a fix. Yep, scorpions.

This may sound strange, but smoking scorpions is nothing new in South Asia, and has presence in India as well. Just that in recent surveys it is our neighbour who has taken the lead in this absurd trend.

Because searing pain is not the most favoured of sensations, some inventive folks found a way of  getting around being stung by the arachnid to get a high (a very strong one that lasts for 10 hours). So how does one smoke a scorpion? It’s not that difficult really – the carcass of the animal is dried and ground till it can be mixed with tobacco or hashish to roll a joint, when not taken neat. If the scorpion does not come dead, a live one is roasted on charcoal fire first.

What are the effects of inhaling the deadly smoke? Deadly, obviously. Sociologist David MacDonald describes the experience of a person who had tried scorpion smoke first-hand. “The effect was instantaneous with the man’s face and eyes becoming very red, much more than a hashish smoker. He also seemed very intoxicated but awake and alert, although he stumbled and fell over when he tried to rise from a sitting position … the smoke tasted “sweeter” than that of hashish, although … it smelled foul, and the intoxicating effect lasted much longer.”

Scorpion venom is extremely dangerous for the human brain, all the more when inhaled. Dr. Azaz Jamal, a medical officer at the Khyber Teaching Hospital, explains “Scorpion smoking causes short and long term memory loss, and hallucination – the state where people have perception of something which is not present.” He added that prolonged exposure to scorpion smoke could cause sleep and appetite disorders, and eventually lead to permanent delusion.

Guess which country Scorpion King won’t be visiting this summer.

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