Jenkem - A Zambian Narcotic Crisis

By: Ben Pate

Teens are known for their outlandish attempts to find the newest cheap high. Whether it be snorting nutmeg from their mothers spice rack or smoking a Twix bar for a quick sugar fix the insanity continues. However, there are some more disturbing trends that have emerged in other countries and there is nothing stopping them from reaching the United States. There is a controversial inhalant known as Jenkem. Primarily used in Africa, if it is used in the United States young adults need to seek help at a drug rehab facility that features a young adult program.


Although reported as a hallucinogenic inhalant among orphaned children in Zambia, its use in the United States has been widely disputed. Arguments have been made purporting that the use of Jenkem in the United States was widely documented as a hoax. Whatever the case may be, it is a drug used in Zambia among street children and there have been sparse accounts throughout the United States reporting the use of Jenkem in American high schools. The only way to get over this addiction is to go to drug addiction rehab.


The use of Jenkem was first discovered in the early 90's. A report from a non-profit agency working with orphaned children in Africa stated that Jenkem was the third most popular drug among street children. Jenkem is a hallucinogenic inhalant that is created from fermented human waste. So essentially, children in Zambia are literally getting high off of their own and others excrement.


Besides the obvious, Jenkem is made by scraping fermented human sewage from pipes and storing it in plastic bags. It is left to sit in the bags for about a week. There are also reports of it being scraped into old cans or containers that are then covered by a polyethylene bag and then left to ferment. Enough room is always left at the top of the bag or container to allow for the methane gas to form.


The reported high from Jenkem lasts about an hour and is compilation of auditory and visual hallucinations. It has been described as more potent that of cannabis. Aside from the high, there are some other nasty side effects. As if the pure thought of it weren't disgusting enough, hypoxia which is a lack of oxygen flow to the body is physically dangerous. Fictitious Drug

There were many reports that came out around 2007 reporting the use of Jenkem in the United States. However, they were widely reported as hoaxes and media frenzy. What is definitely known is that it is a verified drug of choice among those in Zambia. There have been sparse reports from the United States purporting the use of Jenkem in American high schools. The slang term 'butt hash' came from Jacksonville, Florida in reference to Jenkem.

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Whether or not Jenkem is used in the United States is not the point. Once teens hear about these new ways of getting high, there are always those that will attempt it. It is definitely an epidemic in Africa, and there is nothing really stopping it from becoming a problem in the United States.

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