Why do drug addicts seek snake bites to get high?

A case study published in March 2011 of two addicts in India has uncovered a new way that addicts can get high: snakebites. But why do people subject themselves to a potentially deadly amount of venom? And what type of person would resort to this extreme? More on snake bites and addiction here.

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Snake venom as a psychoactive substance

A team of researchers from Rachi, India recently released a report on two men who occasionally seek snake bites for their euphoric effect. It seems that a snake bite from certain types of snakes (elapids and hydrophilids) can produce a toxic effect on nerve tissue and can cause symptoms that appeal to drug addicts and alcoholics. These symptoms include:

  • analgesic effect
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • euphoric effect
  • lethargy
  • muscular paralysis

But what is most interesting about these scientist’s study is their hypothesis that the neural pathways that govern snake bites may be similar to those that govern addiction. In other words, the reward pathways in the brains of substance abusers and drug addicts (the mesolimbic dopamine system) is still thought to be inherently different than most people.

Who gets high on snake bites

Certain types of addicts share certain personality traits and seem to have been born with high levels of impulsiveness and thrill seeking. This type of behavior is especially seen in poly-substance users or abusers. And the researchers identified a few predisposing factors for such novel and dangerous behavior. In fact, people who ARE EXCITED BY the chance of receiving a potentially lethal snake bite share are few things in common. Predisposing factors for snake bite seekers include:

1. A tendency to have already used a wide range of substances.

2. A tendency to seek high sensation experiences as a result of personality traits (openness, extraversion and neuroticism).

3. A social and religious background which honors and worships snakes in mythology.

Why seek snake bites for recreational purposes?

To be frank, people want to be bitten by a snake to get high. The euphoric effect or heightened arousal and sense of well-being drive addicts to do many things that are considered anti-social. Snake bites walk the edge of what is known, and this type of uncertainty can appeal to a person who is looking for a novel effect and experience.

Why do addicts seek snake bites to get high?

So, to answer the question…addicts seek snake bites to get high because they can. The behavior may seem extreme but is really not too different than other susbstance use or seeking behavior. Taking risks to get high is a benchmark of addiction. So it comes as no surprise that true addicts will seek more and more extreme ways for a psychoactive experience.

What do you think of snake bites for effect? Have you heard of this or considered trying it out? Is seeking the help of a snake charmer comparable to any other substance seeking behavior? Do you know of even more extreme ways that people chase the dragon? Your comments and feedback are welcomed here.

Reference source: “Snake Bite as a Novel Form of Substance Abuse: Personality Profiles and Cultural Perspectives” Substance Abuse, Volume 32, Issue 1 January 2011
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Well i am curious about a fact. May be 4-5 years ago i have heard of something like people who lie naked in water and maybe nitrogen or something else is being spread over the water. The person has to be on oxygen mask and i don’t remember how much time it takes to get high but i heard of this mysterious fact. I know it sounds so stupid but still i wanna know if their is something like that. Have you ever heard of it?

  2. I think highly powerful venom consume by bite is impossible to survive without medical attention and it should be painful,not alike other addiction affect.

  3. snake bite gives u a psychedelic indulging dmt lyk high from my knowledge.its a kind of new trend in india,especially teens lyk me go crazy for dat

  4. Bro Andre there is no such thing as a recovering addict.One if taken substance abuse by choice even once is stamped positive by the society….thus an advice for you. Come to Manipur,India…. there they have these short snakes who bite on your tongue and due to their little age couldnt control the amount of venom thus pushing a handsome amount of venom in your blood stream with each bite….Truckers of my country often do it…They even hallucinate and chant om with that

  5. I was a hard-core poly substance addict, and now um a recovering addict. Snakebite’s was like my dream, as an addictive behaviour that addict’s can go through any risk to get the high. I have abused all kinda drug’s my last option was to take snakebite but that became my dream infact.

    1. Hi Andre. I’m glad you are working on your recovery now. Thank you for sharing your experience with everyone. Good luck in you sober life 🙂

  6. I think bites from snakes like vipers or cobras is enough for one to get killed or is there any theory that snake bite on certain parts of human body cannot kill a man..? or do they use certain kind of snakes? an example ?

  7. Hi
    Snake bites are actually quite common, atleast in a city like Kolkata. Many poly-substance abusers seek snakebites for their tryptamine-like effects, similar to psilocybin or DMT. For some, this could be an enlightening experience, though MUCH research is required on this topic. IS there anyone studying this phenomenon?

  8. Hi Nini. Thanks for your question. I read that the incidence of people seeking snake bites to get high is rather low. And those who get addicted even lower. So, I think that it’s more of a thrill seeking option.

  9. why on earth would u want to let some snake bite ya for a euphoric rush when u can get the same effect taking magic mushrooms, and the best part about eating mushrooms is u dont have to sneak up on a plant?? Or well thank the heavens there only 2 of them!!! STRANGE

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