As gross as it sounds, this is a growing trend commonly referred to as “jenkem.” Although our drug rehab in Philly is more accustomed to helping people with addictions to drugs, we couldn’t help but perform our research on this new “drug” trend. We’re sharing what you should know about jenkem and why it’s dangerous.
Allegedly, jenkem is an inhalant and hallucinogen created from fermented feces. Using jenkem in Africa was an especially popular trend among children and adolescents during the 1990s. You use jenkem by putting feces and urine in a jar or a bucket, sealing it with a balloon or lid, and then leaving it out in the sun or heat to ferment. Users would then open the jar and smell the fumes, which are strong enough to produce a high. If you’ve never heard of huffing poop to get high, you’re not the only one. So is jenkem real? While many brushed these reports off as a hoax or faulty internet search, the fact that jenkem was popular among Zambian children says otherwise.
Our list of what you should know about jenkem has been collected from different reports. Various reports of sniffing feces to experience a powerful high have been released since the mid-1990s. One book called Children of AIDS: Africa’s Orphan Crisis by Emma Guest described the making of jenkem: “fermented human sewage, scraped from pipes and stores in plastic bags for a week or so, until it gives off numbing, intoxicating fumes.”1 A 1999 BBC article also refers to this process: “the dark brown sludge, gathering up fistfuls and stuffing it into small plastic bottles. They tap the bottles on the ground, taking care to leave enough room for methane to form at the top.”2 In September 2007, the Collier County Sheriff's Office (located in Florida) released an information bulletin about jenkem, describing its dangers.3 In November of the same year, there was a panic in the U.S. after widespread news reports of jenkem becoming popular among middle and high schoolers were released.
Most reports of jenkem use show that jenkem drug effects can begin within minutes and last for up to an hour after use or “sniff.” Some reported jenkem drug side effects include:
Methane is a colorless and odorless gas that can be produced when organic matter decomposes. When feces is fermented, methane builds up at the top. Methane can also be leaked from mud volcanoes, rice fields, and termites. This methane, in combination with other gasses, is what produces a high when sniffed. A jenkem high is euphoric and powerful. Many jenkem addicts have reported intense delusions, such as seeing dead relatives, as well as feelings of empowerment.
The practice of jenkem and sniffing glue are often compared because the latter is common among children and adolescents. As odd as these practices are, they’re often the result of experimentation with substance abuse. Oftentimes, those who engage in practices like sniffing glue or jenkem are more willing to try drugs when they’re older. While jenkem is a whole other realm, Banyan Philadelphia offers an intensive outpatient rehab program that helps people with drug and alcohol addictions recover and regain their health.
Although reports of jenkem in the U.S. have died down, there are other forms of substance abuse that are even more threatening. The opioid epidemic in the nation has killed thousands, many of which were unable to get the help they need to recover from addiction. If you’re addicted to opioids like fentanyl or any other substance, we can help. Call Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our drug treatment programs.