With the ongoing debate about whether or not monkeypox is an STD, if you were planning on having sex, buying condoms would seem the responsible, adult thing to do. If you were buying flavoured condoms that might mean you were hoping that that strawberry flavour would drown out the taste of cock you were a bit nervous and awkward about. For the most part, condom manufacturers are here for you, with flavours including the more traditional (chocolate, strawberry, banana, and apple) to the less so (pina colada, jasmine, cola, aloe).
But students in the city of Durgapur in West Bengal, India, are looking to get their dopamine hit a different way – by dunking these flavoured contraceptives in water and boiling them, instead.
According to recent reports, flavoured condoms are selling out in medical and general stores in the industrial city, and the students alleged to be buying these condoms are not buying them for contraceptive purposes. From sniffing glue, inhaling nutmeg in large quantities to snorting bath salts, people have come up with ingenious ways of using everyday products or over-the-counter medicines for getting high, but flavoured condoms might be the most unusual, yet.
But can flavoured condoms actually get you high?
Udayan Basak, a polymer chemistry research scholar, told VICE that it is possible. He explained that condoms are made from polyisoprene, a component of natural rubber, while the flavour is imparted by glycerin. To increase the durability and the stretchability of the condom, the synthetic resin polyurethane is used. It is the aromatic compounds found in polyurethane that are known to cause an intoxicating effect.
“None of this has yet been proven with a practical experiment. But it is believed that ethylene glycol, a kind of alcohol, is produced when the polyurethane breaks down after boiling flavoured condoms in water and [keeping them aside] for six to eight hours,” said Basak.
“Flavoured condoms when soaked in water for a long time are known to [release] hydrocarbons and alcohol similar to [those found in] glue,” explained Sanjith Saseedharan, consultant and head of critical care at the SL Raheja Hospital in Mumbai. “Like sanitisers, cough syrups, and nail polish removers, flavoured condoms can be bought over the counter at any medical store. A drug of this kind can give a high for up to 12 hours when used in large quantities.”
But don’t go running to the pharmacy to stock up on flavoured condoms just yet. Even though it’s not illegal to consume products like whiteners, cough syrups, and now, condoms, since they do not fall under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act because they contain only small quantities of sedatives, they can still really mess you up.
“Drinking this water can cause intoxication and addiction. If consumed repeatedly, it will negatively impact the lungs and kidneys, as well as harm the body’s nervous system,” according to Joydeep Ghosh, an internal medicine consultant with Fortis Hospital, Kolkata.
Saseedharan further added that “long-term use of this can lead to mental abnormalities, including violent behaviour, unconsciousness, and [in certain cases] even death.”
Sounds like the cheap price for a high comes with a higher price that can leave a bad taste in your mouth – far worse than even the durian-flavoured condom.
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