WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA)--It may be one of the most expensive spices in your pantry, costing on average $6.99. However, for some kids it's a cheap and easily accessible way to get high.
We are talking about nutmeg. When used as intended for cooking and baking, it's perfectly safe. But all you have to do is search the internet and you will find kids abusing the spice for a thrill.
"Alex," not his real name, was one of those kids. He no longer abuses nutmeg, but the memory of using it is not far from his mind. None of it good.
"The first time I used it, I felt very delirious. It seemed surreal and ridiculous," says Alex.
Nutmeg contains a compound called myristicin which belongs to the deliriant drug family. When abused in high does it can give you a marijuana like buzz. And in some cases act like a hallucinogen.
"The ceiling moving around. Like a white ceiling moving around," describes Alex.
Alex also remembers the downs. And they scared him. "I did it with a kid before, back in the day, when he started coming off of it and he felt really, really crazy depressed. He wanted to kill himself. We had to put him on watch."
Kids also report side effects that include:
-Irritation of the skin
Despite the side effects, the internet is loaded with kids experimenting with nutmeg. Many of them saying it takes hours to get the high.
"For me it took 3 or 4 hours. Other people report longer," says Alex.
Alex points out you also have to get it down. "It is really disgusting. Like I've never tasted anything more disgusting."
Then there are the unknown long term effects.
"We don't know what the long term effects will be," says Mark Segal with Second Genesis, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation organization based in Silver Spring.
Segal says nutmeg intoxication has not been studied in humans but it has in lab animals.
"Mice wind up with having cancer of the liver. Rabbits and guinea pigs wind up having lesions of the brain and the liver. Cats' central nervous excitement that sometimes results in comas and liver damage," says Segal.
As for parents who think a nutmeg high is better than a kid taking pot or some other illegal substance, Alex has this warning. "It's an introductory drug for most kids. It's definitely not worth it."