Getting High: Unusual Methods of Substance Abuse

Last Updated on November 25, 2021

Many cases of drug abuse involve prescription medications or well-known street drugs like heroin or cocaine. While these might be the most common ways people attempt to get high, many other methods exist.

You may have heard of a few of these unusual drug alternatives, but others might surprise you. In this article, we’ll look at some strange ways to get high and the dangers of these practices.


Loperamide, the active ingredient in most over-the-counter diarrhea remedies, is safe and effective when taken as directed; however, some people are consuming massive doses of the drug in their quest for an easy high.

Known as the “poor man’s methadone“, loperamide is often used by people struggling with heroin or prescription painkiller addiction. When they can’t obtain their usual drug of choice, this inexpensive, readily available medication becomes an easy alternative. Taken in large doses, loperamide can have dangerous consequences, causing irregular heartbeat, fainting, vomiting, abdominal pain and even cardiac arrest.


In recipes, only a dash of nutmeg is needed to add flavor to apple pie or cookies, but the spice has mind-altering, hallucinogenic effects when taken in large doses. Some people eat the spice to get the LSD-like high, while others smoke or snort the substance.

Although a powerful nutmeg high can last up two days, most users don’t try to repeat the experience. Large amounts of nutmeg cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, and many users of the spice experience irregular heart rhythms.


It may sound too strange to be true, but some people are using mothballs for more than just protecting their sweaters—they’re using them to get high. The practice isn’t widespread, and it’s usually seen among teens. Most people “huff” from a bag of mothballs to produce a high, but some people suck or chew on the mothballs to achieve the desired effects.

The active ingredient in mothballs, paradichlorobenzene (PDB), carries serious health risks. Emergency room doctors report seeing teens with rashes and severe neurological symptoms brought on by mothball abuse.

Hand Sanitizer

The high alcohol content of hand sanitizer makes it a powerful germ killer, but it also can be used to get dangerously drunk. Drinking an entire bottle of hand sanitizer is similar to consuming at least five shots of a hard liquor—the fruity scents added to many sanitizers makes the product taste good, and users quickly consume enough of it to bring on serious health consequences.

People who abuse this household product face the risk of severe alcohol poisoning, cardiac arrest, coma and even death. Unfortunately, this hazardous practice continues to grow in popularity; in fact, some poison control centers have seen a 400 percent increase in calls related to hand sanitizer since 2010.

Get help for addiction at Nova Recovery Center

There are many unexpected ways to get high. Whether a person uses hand sanitizer or a seemingly harmless sleep aid medication like Lunesta to get high, all of these methods can have dangerous consequences. We understand that breaking the cycle of drug abuse is difficult, whether you’re using a mainstream drug or a more unusual substance. It’s important to know that help is available.

At Nova Recovery Center, we can help you overcome your dependence and start a new life. At our Austin recovery center, we offer individualized treatment to help you achieve long-lasting recovery. Our residential and outpatient rehab in Austin, TX provides holistic and comprehensive care to address the underlying issues of your substance abuse and help you make positive changes in your life. After rehab, we can also assist you if you’re interested in sober living in Austin, TX. Call today to learn more.

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