PSA: Most Scary News Reports About Dangerous Ways to Get High Are Fake

kids smoking
patronestaff/Shutterstock/Oren Aks/Thrillist

Kids do the craziest things to get high these days -- or so the media would have you think. Story after story hits the the internet and TV periodically, warning parents not only to lock away liquor but also to monitor everyday household items that Joe and Suzie might use to get stoned.

While there have been some legit alarm bells, from purple drank to choking games (and we've all seen Intervention), what people don't realize is that most of these so-called "drug crazes" are nothing but over-exaggerations and hoaxes, often started as internet pranks that rely on a grapevine of gullible media and (let's face it) gullible audiences. Here are some of the most frightening, ridiculous, and totally fake of 'em all:


Last year, an ABC-affiliated TV station put up an article warning parents about Beezin' -- kids rubbing good old Burt's Bees peppermint lip balm onto their eyelids to get buzzed. Yes, more people should've realized this was fake.

Rumors about Beezin' have been circulating online for a few years now, according to Snopes, and a doctor quoted in the TV station's report also pointed out it was totally fake, saying, "Getting high means you create an effect on your brain where dopamine is released, which creates a pleasurable experience feeling. That's what happens when you use drugs and that's why they become addictive, so you're absolutely not getting high." Go ahead and facepalm, because somehow, the TV station didn't quite catch on. Or it willfully perpetuated the rumor.

Smearing Burt's Bees on your eyelids will only lead to swelling, pink eye-like symptoms, and absolutely zero euphoria. Save that bad boy for your gross chapped lips.

Smoking bed bugs

This was a hoax that gave a lot of people the heebie-jeebies, alleging that teens were getting cheap, dirty highs from smoking crushed-up bed bugs. The viral news report about this was actually an April Fools' prank, cut with footage from a report about another schoolyard drug scare involving huffing butane-extracted hash. Some poor guy's interview was falsely snipped into the bed bugs vid, and he confirmed it on YouTube.

Those tiny critters don't give off any hallucinogens, and to smoke 'em you'd have to catch them with tiny tweezers and what, save up how many for a spliff? Let's not forget teenagers are lazy.

Vodka-soaked tampons

Exactly as it sounds, this scare claimed that young ladies were soaking tampons in booze and inserting them into their vaginas to get wasted faster. But anyone with a vagina -- so basically half of the population -- will tell you that once one of those weird-looking cotton stoppers gets full of moisture, it's pretty hard to stick it up anywhere. One writer tried, and apparently it stings like the dickens, and not in a warm and fuzzy tequila-down-your-throat kind of way. Also, we're talking literally zero buzz to speak of. Don't do this.

Vodka eyeballing

TheDaily Mail (you know where this is going) posted a damning article about impatient British university students pouring liquor into their eyes to get tipsy faster. Talk about body shots.

Obviously, this does not work. And teens aren't stupid -- flip cup is just as effective, no red eye or redoing makeup necessary. There was plenty of flack after the article for basing a craze on just one woman, which set off a YouTube frenzy of troll videos and bogus reports.

Sniffing poop

Jenkem -- a cheap street high that comes from leaving human waste in the sun then huffing it-- isn't totally fake. It was featured in a New York Timesarticle about Zambian AIDS orphans in the '90s, which is about as depressing as it sounds. But it eventually became an American teen drug panic in 2007, when a message board troll posted a fake photo of a child doing jenkem (also known as "butthash"), starting the hoax. 4channers took things a step further, emailing warnings to schools and law enforcement. According to BuzzFeed, even The Washington Post blogged about jenkem (although that post's since been deleted).

So that whole snuffing-poo thing was never real in the States, but its memory lives on through the internet.


In 2010, a lot of stories appeared about the latest freaky drug trend, teenyboppers becoming obsessed with snorting and eating sizable doses of mama's favorite eggnog spice. Truth be told, nutmeg can indeed give you a high -- albeit an extremely unpleasant one with enough vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea to make anyone close the kitchen cupboard and never, ever do that crap again, much less get addicted.

Back during the "craze," Slate checked in with the American Association of Poison Control Centers and found that the number of nutmeg cases being reported had been severely blown out of proportion. They weren't increasing and nutmeg wasn't anywhere close to becoming an epidemic (and it still isn't).


Shamboiling, or boiling shampoo to get high off the vapor fumes, first showed up as a CNN iReport in 2012. Plenty of outlets latched onto it as a new playground panic, urging parents to keep a close eye on their Pantene or whatever. But eventually shamboiling and its headlines faded into obscurity after no one could find evidence that anyone was actually doing it.

CNN's iReport is still online, but with a disclaimer: "We contacted the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the National Inhalant Abuse Prevention Coalition and none of them had heard of 'shamboiling.'" Hmmm.

Snorting Smarties

Over the last few years, this one's come up a few times: news outlets and schools raising fears that children are crushing and snorting Smarties -- those candy rolls we all got too many of at Halloween instead of infinitely superior chocolate candy. According to some reports, inhaling them Tony Montana-style can lead to gnarly infections, and even nasal cavity maggots.

While putting anything up there clearly isn't healthy, there's no proof that the maggots claim is true or that kids will get addicted to it, seeing as it can't get you high. According to Snopes, a 9-year-old boy who tried it experienced some burning afterwards but wasn't harmed. We like to think he told his friends afterwards to never try that at home -- for the rest of you, take the latest "legal drug is dangerous to kids" story with a hefty grain of nutmeg.

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Barbara Woolsey is a Berlin-based writer who can confirm that people are still getting high on lots of other crazy stuff in techno clubs though. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.