Indian Man Gets High by Letting Poisonous Snakes Bite Him on the Tongue

The Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine recently reported the incredible case of a man who had been getting poisonous snakes to bite him on his tongue, because the usual narcotics no longer gave him the buzz he was looking for.

Cobra venom contains one of the most potent neurotoxins on Earth, with the amount injected in a single bite being enough to 20 adults and even an elephant. These facts only make the story of one Rajasthan opioid addict almost impossible to believe. He told researchers at the Institute of Medical Education and Research, in Chandigarh, India, that he had been subjecting himself to snake bites on the tongue for months, in order to get the buzz he no longer felt using regular narcotics. He did so on the advice of a friend who had been getting snake bites for years, and insisted that the practice is quite common in his community.

Photo: antriksh/Pixabay

The unnamed 33-year-old man reportedly had a history of substance use for the past 15 years. He had started smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol at age 18, and by 24 he was already addicted to them. At age 25 he started using opioids in the form of raw opium and poppy husks, and had been abusing all these substances ever since. However, a few months before presenting himself to the Institute of Medical Education and Research, the man had begun experimenting with snake venom as a more powerful alternative to opioids, at the advice of a friend who had long been using it as a cheaper alternative to alcohol and opium. The effects were unexpectedly powerful.

The subject’s first experienced the effects of snake venom with the help of local snake charmers in Rajasthan, who would have the slithering reptiles bite him on the tip of the tongue. The man didn’t know the exact species of snake the charmers used, but judging by his description, they may have been cobras.

The effects of the snake bite included “jerky movements of the body, blurring of vision, and unresponsiveness (‘blackout’)” for about an hour. However, when he finally woke up from that state of unconsciousness, the man reportedly experienced a heightened arousal and sense of well-being that lasted 3 to 4 weeks and were a lot more intense than the ‘high’ he got from any doses of opioids and alcohol. Even more remarkable was the fact that during these 3 -4 weeks, he did not have a craving for opioids or alcohol and didn’t consume either of them.


This incredible high started to subside about 3 weeks after the snake bite, and the addict started feeling irritable, lethargic and craving for drugs. He would again seek out snake charmers for another bite, and would be in a state of bliss for another 3 to 4 weeks. He told researchers that he would only use alcohol or opioids after at least 1-2 weeks after the snake bite.

The patient told researchers that voluntarily subjecting oneself to venomous snake bites was common in his ethnic community, either as an alternative to regular narcotics, or in conjunction with other substances in order to experience the feeling of ecstasy. Snake charmers only allow their snakes to bite those well known to them, and to the patient’s best knowledge, no one had lost their lives to these sort of bites before.

Interestingly, this is not the first account of poisonous snake bites for recreational purposes. A similar study in 2013 presented two cases of people who willingly subjected themselves to snake bites either to relieve stress or experience euphoria.

Scientific literature shows that cobra venom has a very similar effect to morphine, but “differs from the opiate in that it does not produce addiction and other disagreeable or dangerous by effects”. Well, there is that risk of dying, though…

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