Various stories around the web at the moment are claiming that teenagers in Indonesia are getting high off sanitary pads, with some even suggesting they were used sanitary pads.
The stories seem to stem from comments made by the head of the drug eradication department at the National Drug Agency (BNN) in Central Java in Indonesia. Speaking to the paper Jawa Pos, he said that people were using sanitary pads as a way to get legally high.
“The materials they're using are legal, but they're not being used in a way that's intended, so it ends up being used like a drug,” he was quoted as saying by Vice. “We need to take steps to educate people that there are materials that aren’t classified as drugs or psychotropics in the eyes of the law, but can still be misused.”
Vice went on to note that teens aged 13 to 16 were boiling sanitary pads to distill chemicals and gels inside them, which produce a small high. The practice has apparently been going on for years, although it’s not exactly clear what is causing the high.
More concerning is that the story highlights the issue of child poverty in Indonesia. Snopes, who spoke to an expert on the issue, noted this practice was “generally found in ‘slums’ and ‘mining areas,’” adding that the issue was not that widespread.
They also noted that “the average culprit came from a poor family, was under stress, and included children who wanted to ‘feel happy’” but did not have any money and so engaged in experimentation.”
As to whether people were using soiled pads for the practice, that seemed to be unclear. There were some suggestions this had been done in the past but was no longer practiced, despite claims in various outlets suggesting otherwise.
And the reason for that may have been best explained by Vice. “Indonesian authorities love talking about drug scares, and the press loves running with the most-sensational of claims,” they said.
This story might well be no different, and with many facts unclear, it seems pretty difficult to draw many conclusions about this at the moment.