Teens are Using Nutmeg to Get High

Troubled Teens are Looking for Joy in all the Wrong Places

nutmeg
Commonly found in household cabinets, nutmeg in large quantities can have toxic effects. Flickr/Kate Ter Har

Innocent nutmeg, that perennial winter spice that makes holiday treats taste that much better, is being used by teens in dangerous new ways.

News agencies have begun to report that teens are snorting, smoking, drinking and eating large amounts of nutmeg in an effort to get high. Because it is available on store shelves and common in home spice racks, it is perceived as safe—but in large quantities, it is not.

The use of nutmeg to get a euphoric or hallucinogenic high comes with physical risks, such as nausea and convulsions, and mental risks such as psychosis.

YouTube videos have been posted by teens showing their abuse of nutmeg in an attempt to alter how they feel. Amongst some troubled teens, this spice is being described as an inexpensive, easy and legal way to "get a buzz." What they do not realize is the very real dangers of consuming such large quantities of the spice.

The Facts About Getting High on Nutmeg

Teens are trying it. Does it work? 

Here are the facts:

  • Myristicin is a compound occurring naturally in nutmeg that has mind-altering effects such as hallucinations or a sense of euphoria.  
  • To achieve these effects, large amounts have to be ingested.
  • The effects of consuming large amounts of nutmeg take a while to kick in, so often teens think they haven’t taken enough, and so will continue to ingest the spice. This can lead to serious overdose, with effects lasting up to 24 hours. 
  • According to the Poison Control Centers, the side effects of ingesting nutmeg are substantial to include convulsions, nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, dehydration, dizziness, drowsiness, and depression.
  • The physiological effects of ingesting nutmeg, or doing so over a period of time, haven't been studied but likely include increased blood pressure and heart rate, blurred vision or respiratory problems.

    Why Abusing Nutmeg is a Problem

    Joy isn't found in a bottle of nutmeg. There is a misconception that because nutmeg is not physically addictive as many illicit drugs are, but can produce an altered state when taken in large doses, that it is somehow safe. This is not so, and the increase in teen overdoses from nutmeg highlight this misconception.

    Here are some of the more chilling aspects of this unusual way for a teen to spend the holiday season, or anytime:

    • A teen who thinks it’s a good idea to put large quantities of a toxic substance into their body may be acting out deeper problems or issues.  
    • Abusing nutmeg is no different than abusing alcohol or any illegal drug.
    • A teen who abuses nutmeg risks doing permanent damage to their body and mind.
    • Teens who experiment with nutmeg to feel differently may be self-medicating.
    • Especially during the holiday season, a teen trying to alter their mood may suffer from depression, and abusing nutmeg can make depression even worse.

    Clearly, this is a potent substance in large doses.

    Teens who experiment with nutmeg face potentially life-threatening consequences, and may be struggling with serious underlying problems that need to be addressed.

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