We often preach to our children about the dangers of drugs, but what happens when they find a way to get high that is completely legal— and 100% gross?
This month, the world was informed of the newest way teens from Indonesia are getting high.
Several Indonesian police departments have arrested teenagers caught experimenting with “unusual” methods of intoxication— many including the use of used menstrual pads and tampons.
Apparently, the trend started in 2016 when groups of teenagers in Belitung, Bangka Belitung Islands, and Kerawang, West Java, were caught doing similar at-home experiments. The kids generally turn to easily obtainable, legal items like glue and cough syrup— but now, used sanitary napkins are the newest trend. The head of the drug eradication department at the Java-branch of the National Drug Agency (BNN) explained:
“The materials they are using are legal, but they’re not being used in a way that’s intended, so it ends up being used like a drug.”
According to reports, the kids are boiling the used sanitary pads and tampons and then drinking the resulting “juice”.
It causes them to hallucinate and feel like they’re flying.
“Usually, they use the winged [pads], which have a lot of gel,” said lecturer Indri Dwi Purnom.
As you can imagine, in addition to being gross, the practice is also extremely dangerous. Sanitary napkins contain irritants called superabsorbent polymers (SAP) that “should be prevented from entering the body”, explained Yessi Permana, a chemical researcher at Bandung’s Institute of Technology.
While the FDA classified SAP as non-toxic, the product’s material safety data sheet includes warnings for ingestion, advising to immediately “induce vomiting and seek medical attention.” SAPs are just one of the identified dangers involved in the practice, however. The Indonesian Ministry of Health doesn’t even know what chemical causes the psychedelic effect; Teen Vogue says they’re currently investigating. Sitty Hikmawatty, a commissioner for drugs and health with the Indonesian Committee on Child Protection,” told the press (quoted by Vice): “A lot of these kids are smart, and with the internet, they can make new variants and concoctions.”
“This is where the risk factor goes up because they’re only concerned with one substance in the mixture, ignoring the other substances, leaving open the possibility of fatal side effects.”
If you or somebody you know is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
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