Deadly Household Plant High: How Are Teens Getting High Off Datura?

By iScienceTimes Staff on May 10, 2013 5:05 PM EDT

datura
Teens are using the flower Datura Stramonium, commonly found in backyards, to get high. But the high can also be deadly. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The latest fad drug that teens are using to get high is a deadly plant that may be growing in your very own backyard.

The flower, Datura Stramonium, can be found on the side of the road or in backyards, offering a high that is completely free -- but also highly lethal.

"It was just really, really intense, seeing people that weren't there, talking to people that weren't there," one user told CBS New York under the condition of anonymity. "It was horrible and it lasted two days. The after affects were terrible. We got blurry vision. We actually thought we were going blind."

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Another user told CBS, "My trip lasted over 30 hours. You really can't tell the difference between what's real and what's a dream."

Those were the lucky users. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, Datura kills hundreds of people every year, with thousands landing in the hospital with Datura poisoning.

While Datura, which also goes by the names Jimson Weed, the Devil's Weed and Moonflower, has been well-known in the drug community for years, experts say its popularity is growing.

"My fear is that more and more people are going to die from taking this," drug counselor John Corbett told CBS Philadelphia.

Users take Datura any way a drug can be taken: the flower has been smoked, snorted, and eaten. The side effects of the Devil's Weed can be brutal: hyperthermia, seizures, coma, and death. Amnesia is also common.

Though Datura grows commonly on its own, there are laws in some states regarding the cultivation of the flower. Datura is on the state's Noxious Weed List in Pennsylvania, meaning it's illegal to sell, transport, or plant it. The same holds true in New Jersey.

Like many hallucinogenic drugs, Datura has been used in medicine and spiritual rituals for centuries. Native Americans used the flower to "commune with deities through visions." For centuries, practitioners of Ayurveda medicine in India smoked Datura to relieve asthma, a practice which was adopted by Europeans in the 18th century.

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