Smoking Ants To Get High

By alienfetus · Apr 20, 2010 · Updated Apr 21, 2010 · ·
  1. alienfetus
    Youth smoking ants to get high

    More than a third of children and some as young as 13 have smoked the native samsum ant as a substitute for illegal substances such as marijuana, a senior UAE health official has warned.

    Smoking the red ant gives a similar sensation to smoking marijuana and sniffing glue because of the high concentration of formic acid found in the ants.

    It is not illegal to smoke the ants, and a small packet is said to sell for Dh400 in Dubai.

    “People smoke the ants because they are cheaper and safer – in the eyes of the law – than smoking narcotics,” said a senior police spokesman. “It is also widely available, if not easily purchased.”

    Formic acid, from the Latin word for ant, formica, is a combustible liquid that produces poisonous gases when heated up.

    Health professionals say the long-term effects of smoking the red ants could vary from lung fibrosis to kidney failure and damage to the central nervous system.

    The Ministry of Health has not yet conducted research on the effects of smoking the ants.

    “We are well aware this practice exists. More than a third of teenagers have tried it and some as young as 13,” said Dr Wedad Maidoor, the head of the ministry’s tobacco control team.

    “However, our research only identifies the prevalence and not the side-effects of the practice because we have only recently become aware of it.”

    She believes the youth are smoking the samsum ant because it is a legal alternative to marijuana.

    “The only thing we can do is include this practice in our new anti-smoking campaign, which is aimed at young adults and teenagers. But we need to understand more about it before launching a campaign,” she added.

    The samsum ant’s poison gland holds formic acid, a chemical that smells like vinegar and is used by the ants to kill their prey and to ward off attackers.

    When they bite, formic acid causes necrosis or deadening of the tissues.

    Mohammed al Ali, 27, believes the trend started with labourers from the subcontinent who roll the ants into their bhindis – pure tobacco cigarettes rolled up using a tobacco leaf.

    “It’s a social thing for Indian workers,” the Emirati said.

    “Go to Satwa Square and they are sitting there smoking the ants they rolled up into their bhindis.

    “It’s as easy as picking up the ants, crushing them and then sprinkling them like you would do with marijuana over your tobacco. Then you get high,” added Mr Ali, who said he did not know anyone who had tried to smoke the ants.

    Two young Emiratis, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the ants were collected, ground down and left to dry before being smoked in pure form, either in a roll-up or a pipe.

    They said they had not tried it, but had seen others doing it.

    “Kids just roll it up without any tobacco and smoke it,” said one.

    Dr Riham Ammar, a pulmonologist at Jebel Ali International Hospital, Dubai, believes those who smoke the ants need urgent help.

    “The samsum ants are high in formic acid, which is extremely harmful when inhaled,” he said. “Smoking them could lead to lung fibrosis, lung cancer and damage to the central nervous system.

    “It’s like committing suicide.”

    The ants were not chemically addictive, he added, but those who smoked them were psychologically addicted to the effect.

    “People smoking the ants experience sensations associated with smoking cannabis and sniffing glue,” Dr Ammar said.

    He warned that breathing formic acid could irritate the nose, throat and the lungs, causing coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

    Short-term effects when exposed to formic acid include nausea, headaches, dizziness and vision disturbance. “It could also damage the kidneys,” he added.

    Formic acid is used to make textiles, paper, leather, fumigants, pesticides and solvents, and in electroplating and silvering glass. It is a corrosive chemical and skin contact can severely irritate and burn the skin and eyes.

    Salam Hafez
    Last Updated: June 01. 2008 11:28PM UAE / June 1. 2008 7:28PM GMT

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  1. twoiko
    Wow, just looking Formic Acid up on Wikipedia, you realize how stupid smoking this stuff would be... I hope it oxidizes into something less harmful...
  2. purplehaze147
    This is a good example of why prohibition doesn't work.
  3. godztear
    At first this brought back memories of the kids who died snorting fire ants because they heard Ozzy did it, but then SWIM got slightly intrigued. Is it the formic acid or something else in the ants that gets these people high? SWIM doesn't understand how formic acid could produce a "high" similar to marijuana and sniffing glue considering it releases carbon monoxide when heated. SWIM is guessing that the formic acid is so minute in the ants that it just has to be something else.
  4. Glo82
    This made me lol!

    It's kinda sad too. Didn't India prohibit marijauna recently due to International pressure?

    Now people are smoking poisonous ants, which is like way better, right?

    I know I am beating a dead horse, preaching to the choir, and using numerous cliches, but when will governments learn that people will always be looking for a way to get high no matter what?
  5. RealGanjaMan
    “People smoking the ants experience sensations associated with smoking cannabis and sniffing glue,”

    Wow, what an off sentence. How can any of these 3 substances be compared to each other?
  6. Simplepowa
    People will always seeks mind altering experience. It is stupid to ignore this fact has the government is currently doing.

    They should know the Human kind before governing it.
  7. vagrant mentality
    For a second Swim was like, wait. . . Swu can get high off smoking red ants? Considering those Swim knew were poisonous or something if they bite you.
    But wow, people must be that desperate to get high to smoke something that supposed deadly. If it claims to have the same effects as close to smoking marijuana alone then why not just do that.
    Haha, kind of ridiculous.
  8. Glo82
    Because they are in a country(Dubai I think, but India was mention--the following wouldn't be true for India) where you can probably get an terribly long jail sentence, hand cut off, or even a death sentence for being intoxicated on marijauna, or possesing or selling drugs.
  9. Glo82
    Also they are probably dirt poor and if they can't grow marijuana, they probably can't buy other drugs(cough syrup, inhalants, etc) that would be technically legal.

    I pretty sure the people who can buy pot still are buying pot and not smoking ants.
  10. cra$h
    “The only thing we can do is include this practice in our new anti-smoking campaign, which is aimed at young adults and teenagers. But we need to understand more about it before launching a campaign,” she added.

    wait, prohibition only got people to smoke more dangerous things, regardless of anti-smoking campaigns, so if we just shove bullshit down kids throats even more, it'll work better right? Thats like beating your kid because it wont shut the fuck up. Beat it enough and you'll knock it out. Just logic right?

    My solution: end prohibition?
  11. cowsgomoo
    smoking ants seem real pointless and stupid to swim. its like smoking banana peels. thiers no alkaloids nor anything in ants anyways?

    salvia has no alkaloids and it still has mind alterning abilities...but ants?!!?
  12. twoiko
    This does not make any sense to me, what does alkaloids have to do with this?

    I think you're talking about active chemical ingredients, which were clearly pointed out in the article, although it's only speculation.

    Therefore it would be Formic Acid (the "alkaloid" you're talking about) in these ants and Salvia has what's called Salvinorin A and Salvinorin B which are well known to be the active chemicals in Salvia.
  13. vagrant mentality
    Yeah Swim totally agrees. This was a pretty pointless thread that made absolutely no sense. Considering Swim doesn't live in India nor does swim plan on going there.
    Although there are those red fire ants outside Swims yard . . . Swims gonna go smoke some of those now.

  14. snapper
    Dubai has some of the harshest drug laws on earth (en par with Singapore). Some guyfrom the UK got locked up for 4 years for having a small amount of hashish (like a spec).
    The Indian immigrants are part of many different ethnicities imported to build all the huge hotels and other development projects in that city. There are probably more drugs in the immigrant camps, but it is likely harder for them to get them in given the stiff penalties.
  15. vagrant mentality
    That is insane. Four freaking years for that? Swim thinks this entire nation (excluding some countries) is over reacting with the drug laws. Like, if swu's are knowledgeable enough and know what they are doing and safe about it then these people shouldn't have to give a damn unless they are abusing them to the point where they are killing themselves and others. But then again, we all are anyway.
  16. TheOpium
    SWIM thinks it's pathetic how teens try to get high... Sniffing glue, smoking ANTS, and so on.. wow..
  17. alienfetus
    Swim doesn't really think it's pathetic. The way they've went about it is definitely not very smart, they should have done more research and found out that the chemical is dangerous, but using unusual things to get high isn't all always bad. At some point someone had to say, hey I'm gonna take a bunch of robotussin and see what happens.
  18. Charenton
    Astonishing. SWIM recalls tasting ant soup once, a real delicacy to some.
  19. Erumelithil
    I know a girl who has moved to Dubai because she got a job air hostessing. In order for her to be allowed to have alcohol in her house, she has to apply for a licence! Even then, they will decide how much booze she's permitted to have, depending on her job, gender and age.
    It's crazy.

    As for the red ants, I wonder when they're going to hit the Head Shops, :joint:
  20. TimTrip
    The Res Ant Buzz will hit the shelves together with the Fabulous Jenkem Drops !
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