10 insane teenager highs that weren’t urban legends, after all

There is nothing braver or more creative than a broke teenager in search of a high.

Teenagers are known for pushing boundaries and experimenting with new experiences, especially when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Throughout the years, many stories have emerged about strange and unusual highs that young people can experience while under the influence. These stories often involve outlandish scenarios and bizarre side effects that seem too outrageous to be true, and so they have been dismissed as urban legends.

But, despite popular belief, some of these supposed “urban legends” are actually based in reality.

Toad venom

You might have heard that you can get high from licking certain species of toads, and that’s true. Certain amphibians of the Bufonidae family can secrete poison through their skin that protects them from predators, but the venom can also get you super high. The venom, which contains Bufotenine, causes psychoactive effects like hallucinations.

Before you go around licking toads, remember that licking wild animals could easily give you an infection. And possessing the psychedelic toad juice could even land you in jail.

Human poop (jenkem)

Some people don’t waste their money on expensive drugs to get high when they can just make the drugs with ingredients at home — one of those ingredients happens to be human poop. Jenkem is created by fermenting human poop, urine, and sewage in a bottle, and huffing the gases that come from it.

In the early days of the internet, there was a scare about Jenkem, as parents were worried that their children would create their own poop-drugs because the drug was allegedly gaining popularity among the youth in countries like Zambia.

Obviously, American teenagers aren’t getting high off poop, but it was actually a real phenomenon in Zambia, according to a 1998 report from the New York Times.

As the sun sets on this city, casting shadows over the modern Government-sponsored high rises, entire families settle in for the night on the sidewalks. Scattered among them are the ragged street children, many of whom make money as prostitutes and look for any means to get high.

Workers at the Fountain of Hope, a new nonprofit organization that works with the street children, say the children have even found a way of getting a powerful high from fermented human feces, a substance known as jekem.

Dust Off

Jenkem wasn’t the only weird drug scare of the early days of the internet. I remember family members receiving chain e-mails warning about a phenomenon known as dusting. According to the chain e-mails, teenagers were huffing dust-off and other compressed air spray cans to get high.

While some adolescents have died from huffing cans of Dust-Off compressed air, I’ve never met anyone who has tried it. It is reportedly sprayed onto a rag and sniffed to create mild psychoactive effects, but it can also result in sudden fatal heart failure after the first time using it.

Synthetic “weed” or spice

Since marijuana is illegal throughout most of the United States, some teenagers have resorted to smoking synthetic marijuana instead. The dangerous substance is sometimes known as K2 or Spice.

Unlike marijuana, which doesn’t result in life-threatening overdoses, hundreds of Americans have overdosed on synthetic marijuana. Spice is mixture of herbs, spices and shredded plant material that can resemble marijuana to people who are not familiar with genuine marijuana.

Synthetic weed has led to dozens of cases of severe bleeding and multiple deaths across the United States, according to a CNN report from 2018.


Who would have thought that you could get high off cooking ingredients that are right inside your kitchen cabinet? Nutmeg apparently contains small amounts of myristicin when reduced to an essential oil form.

Nutmeg can produce mild hallucinations that last for up to 10 hours, but ingesting too much could land you in a hospital. According to Healthline:

In some cases, toxic doses of myristicin have caused organ failure. In other cases, nutmeg overdose has been linked to death when used in combination with other drugs.

Small amounts of nutmeg can be used safely in cooking. Most recipes only call for roughly 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg per recipe. These recipes are often split into multiple portions, leaving the actual exposure to nutmeg very insignificant.

According to the case studies from the Illinois Poison Center, even 10 grams (approximately 2 teaspoons) of nutmeg is enough to cause symptoms of toxicity. At doses of 50 grams or more, those symptoms become more severe.

One horrifying detail about nutmeg is that some people get high off this substance unintentionally, and the largest group of people who were unintentionally exposed to nutmeg intoxication were minors under the age of 13.


It’s tough living in prison, and former drug addicts have a hard time coping with prison life. Which is why they sometimes resort to a dangerous homemade alcoholic beverage known as pruno or prison wine. Pruno is made from ketchup, candy, fruit, and any other sugary items that can be obtained from the prison commissary. Prisoners add bread to the mix for its yeast, and allow the concoction to ferment. The result is an alcoholic drink that can range from as low as 2% to as high as 14%, which would make it on par with a strong wine.

Pruno is dangerous because of its desperate nature — often times, prisoners don’t really know what they’re doing. According to the CDC, some prisoners have died from botulism after drinking pruno.

Alcohol tampons

Instead of simply drinking alcohol, some women thought it would be a good idea to soak a tampon in liquor before inserting it inside them.

It should go without saying that this is definitely not a good idea to try. Your intimate parts will sting and burn on contact with alcohol, and the pain will linger even after you remove the tampon. Additionally, the amount of alcohol absorbed by tampons wouldn’t be enough to get anybody that drunk.

Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of documented cases of people actually doing this, and much of the discussion online surrounding alcohol tampons is based on speculation. Still, I wouldn’t put it past some people — there are people who get high off fermented poop, after all.

Hand sanitizer

Some brands of hand sanitizer contain 62 percent ethyl alcohol, and when teenagers see the word “alcohol,” they immediately think about how to get high off it.

Some kids have apparently found ways to separate the alcohol from the other hand sanitizer ingredients, but it’s still a bad idea. Drinking hand sanitizer in any capacity can cause internal organ, damage respiratory arrest, and even death.

But if you’re stupid enough to buy hand sanitizer to get high, you’re out of luck. Hand sanitizer is quickly becoming a rare and expensive commodity because of the coronavirus.