Getting high from snakebites

The addiction journal Substance Abuse has two cases of people using snakebites to get high.

To be clear, this isn’t the mix of beer and cider, a drink also known as snakebite, but an actual venomous bite from a serpent.

Here’s the first case – and yes, alternative reality fans – he really is named ‘Mr PKD‘ in the report:

Mr. PKD, a 52-year-old married male with a history of substance use for past 34 years started taking alcohol at the age of 18 and over the years he added cannabis, benzodiazepines, and opioids over different periods of time and in varying combinations to produce the desired effects…

Two months before contacting our center, the patient learned of the intoxicating effects of snake venom through some of his friends and, as reasoned by the patient, he decided to try it in order “to experience the kick the other substances now lacked.”

With the help of the nomadic snake charmers common in India, the patient subjected himself twice to the snake bite over his left forearm over a period of 15 days. There was no local tissue injury at the site of the bite apart from the bite marks.

The patient described a feeling of dizziness and blurred vision followed by a heightened arousal and sense of well-being lasting a few hours; a more intense state of arousal than he would experience with pentazocine injections. The patient was not able to identify the snakes used but was apprehensive about the risks involved in the process.

The other case involves a man who “subjected himself to being bitten once on his left foot by a small Indian cobra (Naja naja). The patient described the experience as a blackout associated with a sense of well-being, lethargy, and sleepiness”.

Anyone even slightly tempted by this description should check out the off-putting illustrations on the Wikipedia page on snakebites. Slightly less trippy I’m sure you’ll agree.

Link to DOI entry for case reports.
Link to PubMed entry for case reports.

24 thoughts on “Getting high from snakebites”

  1. I can never decide whether I want to drink beer or cider. Mix them together!?!? My life will change! “How profoundly stupid of me not to have thought of that.”

  2. The cobra’s venom is a biological marvel. It has evolved over millions of years of trial and error to its present form. It is highly optimized TO KILL MAMMALS DEAD. For fark’s sake WHY would you voluntarily inject yourself with something tailored to make you fall down and die?

      1. There’s good legal whiskey.

        You can smoke that there Mexican rope.

        You can find high-purity blotter acid or grow your own salvia divinorum or pick those funny mushrooms that grow on cow flops.

        Sub-lethal doses of cobra venom just don’t make any sense

  3. Twenty years ago or so, I was hang gliding off a small hill in San Diego’s Carmel Valley. A couple of Germans had found a small rattlesnake and were about to drop a rock on it. Since we were only visitors to its domain, I pinned it with a stick and caught it. As I tossed it into a handy bush far away from the activity, it fanged me in passing.

    It was quite strange. I’ve a severed nerve in the thumb it bit, so I didn’t feel it until my hand started to tingle. It wasn’t swelling up so I sat in a lawn chair contemplating it.

    Colors were brighter, and I felt different, but it wasn’t unpleasant. Wouldn’t recommend it, though.

  4. This is generally done by ppl who don’t get high for heroin. And they use a snake that is few months old, not the one that is 6 foot long. There are high risks of overdose, still ppl try it for fun. I have read about this in a local tamil magazine few years back. The saddest part is the snakes that are used for this(cobra) dies in 1 and half years if they are continuously used for this purpose.

    1. Hey Bragi,

      do you remember in which magazine you read about this? Was the article in English? I am really interested in this topic. Please get in touch if you have any further information. Many thanks, Alex

      1. Hey Alex,
        Sorry for very late reply. It was not an english article. It was a tamil article, its a south indian language (in case if u don’t know). I read it 6 years back. The snake that they use ‘cobra’. You see there are these certain tribes who earn their livelihood by catching snakes for the forest departments or selling it to these kind of drug abusers or street perfomers or smugglers. These people are called ‘Irulas’. These people are in and around chennai formerly known as madras, India.

        I guess its still prevalent, this kind of drug abuse was just beginning when I read the article. I wonder if this reply will be of any use now after an year and my apologies again.

      2. Hi Bragi,
        many thanks for your reply! I am still really interested in this topic and have loads more questions. I am a journalist and am thinking about writing a piece on this. Do you have an email address you could give me so we can chat a bit more?
        Cheers, Alex

  5. I would like to learn about the effects of getting high from snake bites, as well as anti aging properties. and please do not harm snakes.

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