10 Mar Nutmeg Abuse: When Spice is Not So Nice
The abuse of household chemicals by individuals looking to experience altered states of consciousness has received quite a bit of publicity in recent years. Cleaning products, over-the-counter medicines, mothballs, Freon from air conditioners-you name it, and if it has any capacity to alter consciousness at all when consumed, you can be sure somewhere someone is drinking, sniffing, snorting, or inhaling it on a daily basis. Even though virtually all of these substances carry labels warning of dire consequences for anyone foolish enough to ingest them, these urgent cautions are seldom enough to dissuade individuals who are determined to get high at any cost.
But did you know that what passes for chemical ecstasy in the minds of many can be obtained from a substance that you can find right in your very own spice rack? When it comes to the use of spices in food we all know that a little goes a long way, but it turns out that with at least one of these common cooking flavor enhancers consuming heavier amounts can deliver a kick that far surpasses anything you might get from a liberal sprinkling of garlic or chili powder.
Nutmeg is the substance to which we are referring, and believe it or not many people are actually ingesting prodigious amounts of this zesty spice in search of that elusive ‘safe high’ that drug enthusiasts are always dreaming about. Spices are really nothing more than a form of food, users reason, so therefore nutmeg must be safe in just about any dose. If taken raw and in larger amounts it might burn a little on the way down, but if it is not physically addictive, and it can help you escape from your sad and stress-filled existence by sending you off on a marvelous psychedelic trip to never-never land, then perhaps this innocuous little spice really is the side-effect-free manna from heaven that hardcore drug users have long been seeking.
As addiction specialists know all too well, however, there is no such thing as a “safe high,” and anyone who starts using copious amounts of nutmeg with the idea that it must be harmless because it is available on the shelves of grocery stores is setting himself up for big trouble. Any substance taken in excess for the purposes of inducing an altered state of consciousness has the potential to cause significant biological damage, and anyone who feels they must rely on the dubious compensations of mind-warping chemicals in order to cope with the complexities and exigencies of daily life is laying down a subconscious foundation on which psychological dependency and addiction will eventually rest.
Nutmeg may be a tasty spice when consumed in moderation, but when used as an intoxicant it is transformed into a body-and-soul killing monster that is no less benign or harmless than any other toxic chemical substance you might find at home in your bathroom cabinet, kitchen cupboards, or garage.
Side Effects and Symptoms
Bundled up within the molecular structure of nutmeg is a potent substance called myristicin. When swallowed and digested this reactive oil is altered by metabolic processes in the body, morphing into a type of amphetamine that can cause its user to experience a sustained euphoria, and sometimes hallucinations, both of which can range from moderate to extreme in their intensity, depending on the quantity of nutmeg consumed. The consciousness-changing effects of nutmeg usually do not begin to manifest until a few hours after it has been ingested, but once they do become evident they can last for up to 24 hours before finally abating.
It would be a mistake to assume-as many first-time users apparently do-that the nutmeg experience is entirely blissful. When new drugs, chemical derivatives, or natural substances that can supposedly induce wonderful states of exhilaration come along, they are always hyped as being the greatest thing going, and thrill-seekers will naively leap in head first without being aware of the true risks involved. Once word starts to get out about what bad news these new intoxicants really are, by then it will be much too late, as a whole new depressing subculture of substance abuse will have already formed to continue entrapping new victims in the years ahead.
Nutmeg is no exception to the rule; the types of hallucinations it causes, for example, are far from desirable for most who foolishly choose to gobble it up by the spoonful. Frightening visions of destruction and doom, followed by feelings of intense hostility and paranoia, are the most common calling cards of the myristicin that gives nutmeg its intoxicating reputation, and some users have even reported homicidal or suicidal thoughts while trying to come down from the terrifying and surreal side effects that usually accompany a ride on the nutmeg roller coaster.
Nutmeg causes a toxic reaction in the body at doses of less than one tablespoon, leading to dangerous disruptions of normal cardiovascular and central nervous system functioning. When consumed in large quantities nutmeg can bring on a number of disturbing physiological and psychological symptoms of distress, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- Rapid pulse
- Breathing difficulties
- Hyperactivity and agitation
- Anxiety attacks
Down the Rabbit Hole
From a purist’s standpoint, it is probably not accurate to speak of anyone being “addicted” to nutmeg, since it does not create physiological dependence in the body. Nevertheless, using easily obtained substances like nutmeg to get high will inevitably create just the sort of psychological compunction that can ultimately lead to addiction, as the person who starts out in his spice rack at home will likely move on to other, more potent (and lethal) mind-altering substances in the future.
At the present time, no one is known to have died from using nutmeg, but the abuse of chemical substances that can be found around the house must be viewed in the context of the larger drug scene and its associated death toll. Substances like nutmeg undoubtedly open a gateway to even more dangerous chemical intoxicants, and once vulnerable individuals start down this road there is no telling how dark the journey’s final destination may ultimately turn out to be.
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