Men got high from snake bites on tongue

The Daily Telegraph - - World News - By Sap­tarshi Ray in Delhi

IN­DIAN doc­tors have been left baf­fled af­ter two men reg­is­tered them­selves for drug ad­dic­tion to an un­usual, and of­ten deadly, nar­cotic of choice: snake venom.

Two men from Ra­jasthan have been get­ting co­bras to bite them on their tongues as no amount of more tra­di­tion­ally in­tox­i­cat­ing sub­stances gives them a buzz any­more, med­i­cal re­search found.

Ad­dic­tion and toxin spe­cial­ists at Chandigarh’s Post Grad­u­ate In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Re­search are now ex­am­in­ing the two sub­jects of the study to de­ter­mine whether they have con­sumed drugs to the point of im­mu­nity, or they are gen­uine med­i­cal cu­riosi­ties.

The two men ap­par­ently paid snake charm­ers to help get the an­i­mals to bite them on the tip of the tongue, pro­duc­ing in the pair “jerky move­ments of the body, blurry vi­sion and un­re­spon­sive­ness for an hour”, said Dr Grover, coau­thor of the study.

“How­ever, af­ter wak­ing up, they ex­pe­ri­enced height­ened arousal and a sense of well-be­ing, which ac­cord­ing to them was more in­tense than the high of a nor­mal dose of al­co­hol or opi­oid.

“The study was un­der­taken to make clin­i­cians aware about such sub­stance abuse for re­cre­ational pur­poses as not much med­i­cal lit­er­a­ture is avail­able.”

The two men are in their late 30s and it is un­clear how they de­vel­oped the abil­ity to with­stand the bite of a co­bra – which in some in­stances can kill a fully grown bull.

“The pa­tients had been opi­oid-de­pen­dent for more than 15 years,” said Dr Grover. “Only four re­ports of (re­cre­ational) use of snake venom have been pub­lished from In­dia. These (two) users were from well-off fam­i­lies.”

While very rare, snake-bite highs have been doc­u­mented among com­mu­ni­ties in north-west Ra­jasthan, but usu­ally as an oint­ment or balm placed on the skin as a hal­lu­cino­genic.

Dr Savita Mal­ho­tra, a de­pen­dency spe­cial­ist, added: “It’s not known how some­one can de­velop an­ti­bod­ies and sur­vive the bite dur­ing ad­dic­tion.”

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