Creative Highs That Are Trendy and Dangerous

Many teens (and some foolish adults) will try strange and sometimes dangerous ways to get high. Some turn to household chemicals for huffing, which does indeed produce a high, but which can also cause brain damage and even death. Others will attempt to strangle each other with an equally dangerous risk of dying.

But these aren’t the strangest ways in which people have tried to get high. Here are some bizarre attempts at getting high that have made their way into the news. Some are based on hoaxes, but all are bad ideas:


A species of ocean bream called Sarpa salpa causes hallucinations when the head is consumed. The effect kicks in immediately and can last as long as several days. Normally, this fish lives in the warm waters of southern Africa and the Mediterranean, but lately it has shown up off the coasts of France and Great Britain. Global warming is blamed for its northerly migration.

Occasionally, someone will hear about the effects of eating the head of Sarpa salpa and will try it in order to get high. The results can be dangerous, as demonstrated by two men hospitalized a few years ago. Two men in southern France experienced auditory hallucinations and nightmares for two days after eating the hallucinogenic fish. The effect comes from a substance found in the plankton and algae the fish eat. It accumulates in the fish’s head, but to varying degrees. Some fish may cause hallucinations, while others won’t.


A popular dare with youngsters a few years ago, the nutmeg high is real and it’s dangerous. A compound in the spice called myristicin causes hallucinations if consumed in large quantities. It takes a large amount of nutmeg to see an effect, which can then last for up to two days. In addition to the high and hallucinations, eating this much nutmeg can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, heart problems, nerve damage and even death.


Teens are always looking for a new and more accessible high and they are sometimes fooled by a hoax. A trend called i-dosing supposedly causes a high by using sounds. Gullible teens can pay a few dollars to download an audio file that is supposed to alter the brainwaves in order to produce a high. The audio files deliver two different sounds, one to each ear, but they won’t give the listener a high. I-dosing is actually based on a type of unproven relaxation therapy that dates back to the 1800s.

Bananadine and Peanut Shells

Two other hoaxes come from the infamous 1960s book, The Anarchist Cookbook. The book is full of recipes for drugs and even explosives that aren’t only false and incorrect, but also potentially dangerous. The book claims that users can get high from smoking raw peanut shells or from the scrapings of the insides of banana peels. Neither attempt at a natural high works and either one could be harmful to anyone allergic to peanuts or bananas. 

Seeking a high from any source, whether an illegal drug, a legal substance or food product, is a dangerous enterprise. Mind-altering substances do just that: They change the brain and doing so is a risky prospect. When experimenting with non-traditional sources for a high, an even bigger risk is taken by not knowing what the results will be.

By: Mary Ellen Ellis

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