In this age of high technology where a lie often spreads exponentially faster than the truth, it’s easy to see how mothers can be swindled and duped when it comes to the safety of their children. But fear and hysteria often come at a price – especially when mothers are told their kids are doing some type of deadly new drug. Strawberry Meth, Vodka Tampons, Butt Chugging, Jenkem; these are some of the latest wild reports being force-fed to parents, but it turns out that your kids aren’t doing any of these drugs.
By James F. Davis
In 2007 the Carson City Sheriff’s office in Nevada conducted a raid that uncovered pink-hued methamphetamine or crystal meth. While drugs like meth, cocaine and heroin vary in color depending on methods of manufacture, additives, etc, agents reportedly discovered a bottle of Strawberry Quick nearby and assumed it must have been used to “flavor” the meth.
The story was originally reported by the Nevada Appeal in January of 2007, (1) quickly spreading to become the source of a significant amount of media attention regarding a new drug craze called Strawberry Meth.
Numerous stories surfaced of drug dealers prowling playgrounds and providing free strawberry meth to get children hooked on the drug. Reporters issued warnings to parents that strawberry meth was being marketed to kids because it tasted better than regular meth and looked like candy, and that drug traffickers were desperate for a new marketing ploy. (2)
Eventually the DEA issued public statements supporting the need for public concern about strawberry meth, and legislation was passed to provide for much more severe penalties for traffickers of such drugs.
But before the year was over the story was called into question and no proven cases were ever actually presented in response. In a comprehensive news feature for Join Together, Bob Curley describes how the DEA and the White House finally admitted that they could not find any cases of flavored meth in the United States. (3)
Nevertheless, the erroneous stories were difficult to retract and the strawberry meth hoax made its way across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom, causing fear among parents and authorities there. The story was officially debunked in the UK shortly after, with blame for the spread of this myth placed on one poorly informed police officer in Oxfordshire. Apparently the officer read about the supposed drug in an email and quickly passed it on. (4)
Interestingly enough, email is keeping this myth alive today – with the help of social media and journalists that neglect to check facts before reporting a story. (5) But the truth is out there for anyone who conduct even cursory research.
Moms, your kids are not doing strawberry meth because it doesn’t exist.
To date there have been zero confirmed cases of “vodka tampon” use resulting in intoxication or injury. Despite extensive media coverage of the subject that specifically targeted parents, nearly all reports of this supposed intoxication method stem from one poorly informed school resource officer. This resource officer was interviewed by a reporter from KHPO in Phoenix, who then ran a story that has since served as a primary source despite never presenting any evidence other than the words of the resource officer. (6)
In the KHPO story, Chris Thomas – the school resource officer – even went so far as to say that teens using vodka tampons to get drunk was “not isolated to any school, any city, any financial area; this is everywhere.” As a result, the story quickly spread until it was finally called into question as no verified cases could be uncovered anywhere in the United States.
In fact, some were so skeptical of this story that they decided to test if the “vodka tampon” concept really worked. Betsy Phillips, who blogs at Tiny Cat Pants, determined that it’s impossible to insert alcohol soaked tampons into either the rectum or the vagina simply because by its very nature the product physically fails for this purpose. (7) Other testers have made similar attempts, and for those who were successful in the initial insertion, the burning and pain that immediately ensues causes the experimenters to rapidly remove the offending tampon; although the pain lingers for some time afterward. Just do a quick search on YouTube and find out for yourself.
Moms, your kids are not using vodka tampons because it’s not really feasible to do so.
In the United States there have been two documented cases of butt chugging – the practice of consuming alcohol via the rectum – and one of those cases may not have actually occurred.
In the first case, Tammy Werner administered a sherry enema to her husband, who had throat issues that made drinking alcohol impossible. Michael Werner was a severe alcoholic and so had taken to “drinking” booze with his butt, but on this occasion the alcohol enema killed him. Charges initially filed against Tammy were later dropped, but not before the media had picked up on the story and spread the concept of butt chugging. (8)
The second case may not be a case at all. Alexander Broughton was 20 years old this past September when his fraternity brothers from the University of Tennessee dumped him at a local emergency room. Broughton suffered from severe alcohol poisoning, and police pointed to evidence that he and the other boys may have been “butt chugging.”
The Broughton case caused a media sensation that quickly dwarfed that of the recent vodka tampons scare. However, Broughton denies that he or anyone else inserted alcohol into his rectum and has threatened to take action against individuals responsible for the spread of this story. (9)
So here we have one case of a severe alcoholic restricted to alcohol enemas by a health condition, and one case that may not have happened at all. And while anecdotal evidence suggests that various types of enemas may be common in the homosexual population – including coffee enemas, herbal enemas, and possibly wine enemas, this is not a trend or even an infrequent occurrence amongst kids, teens and young adults.
Moms, the chances that your kids are butt chugging are so small that it’s not worth worrying about.
Jenkem is possibly the vilest of all methods of getting high, and it does indeed exist. Some orphan children in Zambia have developed a process whereby they get high from human feces and urine. Reports have surfaced of these children scraping sludge up from the sewers and bottling it to generate methane and other gases. By inhaling these gases the children are purportedly able to obtain an intense high. (10)
Reports in Africa somehow led to hysteria that jenkem had made its way to the United States, causing some journalists to warn parents to smell their children’s breath in order to determine if they’d been using this type of drug. However, jenkem in the US turns out to be similar to strawberry meth, vodka tampons and butt chugging: it’s simply not being done. As of the date of publishing of this article, there have been no confirmed cases of jenkem in America.
In fact, most of the news reports and web sites that published content indicating American kids were doing jenkem have since been redacted or taken down. Reports that still exist feature a characteristic lack of any supporting information or evidence. (11)
Moms, hype about jenkem being a trend among your kids is a gassy load of crap.
In order to help stop the spread of these types of unsubstantiated stories that only serve to amp-up a mother’s anxiety about the safety of her children, they should be vetted before sharing. Specifically, look for credible links, citations or references that support the story. Myth-debunking resources like Snopes and Urban Legend are also excellent ways to tell if a story has any merit or not.
Finally, remember that news sources – including your local news that you trust and rely on – often get stories wrong simply by sharing what other journalists never bothered to verify in the first place.
We’re all fallible and it’s easy to get worked up when the safety of our children is involved, but when it comes to these 4 supposed trends, you’re better off worrying about something that actually presents a real problem. These stories are mainly just fodder for news cannons, with too many busy moms getting caught in the unsuspecting crossfire.
James F. Davis is a Certified Addiction Specialist, Board Certified Interventionist and the founder of a prominent Florida drug rehab center. More importantly, Mr. Davis is a recovering addict himself in his 31st year of sobriety. Mr. Davis and his wife, Debbie – a recovering addict with 28 years of sobriety – wrote this article jointly in an effort to help relieve some of the stress placed on mothers by over-hyped, erroneous media reports.
(2) Leinwand, Donna Flavored Meth Use on the Rise USA Today 03/26/2007 Accessed 01/17/2013 http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-03-25-flavored-meth_N.htm
(3) Curley, Bob Meth Ado About Nothing? Flavored Meth and Cheese Heroin Stories Smack of Fear Mongering Join Together 06/22/2007 – As Archived on Urban Legends – About Accessed 01/17/2013 http://urbanlegends.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://web.archive.org/web/20070701195950/http://www.jointogether.org/news/features/2007/meth-ado-about-nothing.html
(4) Police Duped Over Fictional Drug BBC News 03/05/2008 Accessed 01/17/2013 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/oxfordshire/7279002.stm
(6) Bierman, Breanne and Erwin, Elizabeth Teens Using Vodka Tampons to get Drunk KHPO 11/08/2011 Accessed 01/17/2013 http://www.kpho.com/story/15981315/teens-using-vodka-tampons-to-get-drunk
(7) Philips, Betsy In Which I Debunk the Vodka Soaked Tampon Myth Tiny Cat Pants 11/2012 Accessed 01/17/2013 http://tinycatpants.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/in-which-i-debunk-the-vodka-soaked-tampon-myth/
(8) Stewart, Richard Woman Accused of Giving Husband Lethal Enema Houston Chronicle 02/02/2005 http://www.seattlepi.com/national/article/Woman-accused-of-giving-husband-lethal-sherry-1165596.php
(9) Hickman, Hayes UT Student Livid at Erroneous Alcohol Enema Report Knox News 12/25/2012 http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/sep/25/dad-disputes-erroneous-information-released-by/
(10) Matheson, Ishbel Africa Children High on Sewage BBC News 07/30/1999 Accessed 01/17/2013 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/406067.stm
(11) Disturbing New Drug Teens Are Using WIFR 11/06/2007 Accessed 01/17/2013 http://www.wifr.com/news/headlines/11064316.html