Scorpion Smoking Gaining Popularity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The menace of scorpion smoking is gaining popularity in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Although there are no exact statistics that reveal the users’ percentage, research has been carried out to find the prevalence of scorpion smoking addiction.
A dead scorpion is first dried in the sunlight or burnt on coal. The coal is kept on a traditional stove, and the scorpion is allowed to cook until it burns to death.
Sohbat says opium’s affects are far safer than scorpion smoking.
“Chars aw powder kho asi gup dai,” Sohbat says in way of explanation—“Hashish and heroin’s so-called relief is nothing in front of scorpion.”
In India, where the use is common in a few states, the method is quicker, and more expensive. People holding scorpions in their hands park themselves in specific spots, and addicts come to have a 'sting of pleasure'. They pay between 100 to 150 Indian rupees for each sting.
In KP, some people mix the burnt tail with hashish and tobacco to smoke it in a cigarette. Sohbat’s method varies— he would use a ‘nacha’, which is a small pipe used to inhale drugs.
The high lasts for almost 10 hours. The first six hours are more painful, as the body adjusts to the high. Slowly, Sohbat says, the feeling eases into enjoyment. “Everything appears like it is dancing,” he calls. “The roads, the vehicles, everything in front of me.”
Experts say that scorpion venom is dangerous for the human brain when inhaled. Among the 1,750 described species of scorpions, 25 are fatal to humans. The rest do not kill when they sting, but according to Dr Azaz Jamal, their venom is far more harmful than other drugs.
“Scorpion smoking causes short and long term memory loss,” says Jamal, who is a medical officer at the Khyber Teaching Hospital. The person addicted to scorpion smoking also develops sleeping and appetite disorders, and starts living in a constant state of delusion.
“Smoking causes hallucination, the state where person have perception of something which is not present,” he explains.
He goes on to explain that there is little research available on scorpion addiction because its users cannot be identified as easily.
Azeemullah, a former service man at KP’s narcotics control department, who has traveled around the province for many years, has found addicts in the districts of Bannu, Kohat, Karak, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Charsadda and Batkhela. He cannot cite numbers, but his results show that the drug is not a rare indulgence.
Azeem comments on the lack of laws for scorpion smoking in Pakistan. “We need laws in place to stop the killing of scorpions,” he says. Azeem adds that scorpions are used in medicines for diseases like cancer and AIDS. Unless their use is regulated, scorpion addiction poses a threat to the availability of scorpions for medical purposes.


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