Getting High on Scorpion Tails

In Afghanistan, scorpions are being used in a very unusual way. People desperate and with little access to drugs have found out that crushing, drying, and then smoking the powdered tails of scorpions along with either tobacco or marijuana can create a stronger, longer-lasting high.

Afghanistan’s impoverished, war-torn population has experienced increased drug usage to help relieve suffering. However, they have had to turn to more unusual sources for intoxication as Western nations have led efforts to criminalize drugs globally.

Afganistan smoking
Photo Credit: Jordi Bernabeu Farrus

There many anecdotal reports of the effects of smoking scorpion vary widely, most likely because different scorpion species contain different psychoactive properties. They are known, among other things, for causing sleeplessness, painful headaches, and visual hallucinations. A Kabul man smoked between 20 and 30 times and felt its effects for three days, during which he experienced constant visual hallucinations, a spinning head, and trouble opening his eyes.

Although smoking scorpion is still rare globally, it has begun to appear in India’s western states where police crackdowns on mainstream drugs has led to the its sale. The fact that people have turned to smoking scorpion tails has, in the opinion of some, shown how futile the war on drugs really is. They argue that people will find ways to get intoxicated no matter how strictly regulated narcotics are.

You can start your own habit with a framed scorpion display. (Natalie Gilmore)

Main Photo Credit: DW Ross