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Cobra Venom Addiction: A Serious Problem

April 5, 2012

A UP roadways bus heading towards Meerut on Tuesday night had more than just passengers on board. 500 ml of cobra venom accompanied by two live snakes (a babyCobra in a grassy field python and a sand boa) were seized from the bus by the Delhi police.

The bottle of venom, estimated at Rs 2 crore, was discovered in the travel bag of passengers Mion and Mhboob—the two persons were arrested. Their arrests mark the fourth snake venom seizure since November 2011.

But why? Why would Mion and Mhboob tote around two live snakes and a bottle of pricey cobra venom? The answer is simple: the stuff is wildly addictive, and addicts pay big to get their hands on it.

But I’m still curious… so let’s explore cobra venom addiction.

The Dangerous (and venomous) Problem

You’d have to be crazy to let a cobra latch his jaws around your arm, right? Well yes. That would hurt. But what if you could isolate the venom? What if you could skip the teeth piercing into your skin, and get right into the good stuff—a custom saliva cocktail? StillThree Cobras in baskets sounds crazy to me.

But as snake venom continues to gain in popularity, snakes are killed and addicts are kept high.

According to wildlife experts, the pair on the bus would need to kill around 100 snakes to isolate the 500 ml of precious substance discovered in the soft drink container.

How it Works

Cobra venom is mostly made of enzymes and lipids. The neurotoxic venom can cause temporary paralysis and breathing cessation.

Sounds dangerous. But cobratoxin, a component of the venom, prevents acetylcholine molecules (think of these as nerve activating particles) from binding to nerve receptors—causing specific synaptic transmissions to temporarily shut down.

The result is a low level paralysis, similar to the effects of some recreational drugs.

A Venomous Blend

The venom is processed into a powder by drying the syrupy liquid, and then grinding it. Pinches of powder are used in alcohol and other cold drinks to give the beverages an extra “kick.” It only takes one gram of the drug per ten litres of alcohol.

The powder is rarely consumed in its raw form; but it isn’t unheard of.


Methods of using snake venom to achieving a unique high have taken multiple forms.

  • Addicts ingest pills contain cobra venom as an active ingredient.
  • As mentioned above, the drug is sprinkled into beverages.
  • Some take it raw—directly ingesting the powder.
  • Reports of desperate addicts allowing cobras to bite them directly are uncommon, but far from entirely absent.

Cobra on red ground in field

The effects of snake venom include:

  • Enhanced sensation
  • Energy boost
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Other narcotic-like effects

This unique addiction shows the intensity of the drug and alcohol menace in India. If addicts are willing to go down dangerous paths like using snake venom powder to get high, I can only imagine what lies ahead for our country and her people.

If you or a friend needs help, check out our resources or find a De-Addiction centre near you. Fight addiction with hope, and use hope to actualize a sober lifestyle.