IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

SNAKE VENOM

6th November, 2023 Health

SNAKE VENOM

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Picture Courtesy: www.sciencenews.org

Context: A well-known person was arrested by the police for selling snake venom at parties in the National Capital Region. The police found 20 millilitres of snake venom and several live snakes, including five cobras, a python, two two-headed snakes, and a rat snake with the accused.

Details

  • Snake venom is occasionally used for recreational purposes by people who intentionally subject themselves to snakebites, typically on their feet or tongue. They do this to experience its psychoactive effects or as a form of self-harm, despite the considerable risks involved.
  • Snake venom's neurotoxic properties can lead to pleasurable experiences by binding to brain receptors linked to pleasure and reward, such as nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.
  • Snake venom releases psychotropic substances like serotonin, which have hypnotic and sedative effects, contributing to the reported feelings of euphoria and well-being in recreational users.

Dangers and concerns associated with using snake venom as a recreational drug:

Lack of Scientific Understanding

‚óŹThere is a significant lack of scientific research regarding the recreational use of snake venom.

‚óŹThe limited studies available do not provide comprehensive insights into the potential long-term effects, safety, or risks associated with consuming snake venom.

Unpredictable Effects

‚óŹThe effects of snake venom consumption can vary widely from person to person.

‚óŹWhile some individuals may report feelings of happiness and euphoria, others may experience adverse effects such as blurred vision, jerky movements, and unresponsiveness.

‚óŹThese variations in reactions make the use of snake venom highly unpredictable.

Potential for Addiction

‚óŹIndividuals who consume snake venom may experience cravings for the substance after the initial high wears off. This suggests that snake venom could have addictive properties, leading to compulsive and harmful behaviours associated with addiction.

Risk of Overdose

‚óŹDetermining a safe and appropriate dose of snake venom is challenging, as the potency and quality of snake venom can vary significantly.

‚óŹOverdosing on snake venom can have severe and potentially fatal consequences, given the potent nature of the toxins found in snake venom.

Lack of Safe Administration

‚óŹIn reported cases in India, snakes were deliberately made to bite consumers, typically on their feet or tongue. This method of administration is highly dangerous.

‚óŹSnakebites can lead to venom-induced complications, including severe local reactions, tissue damage, and allergic responses.

Legal Implications

‚óŹThe possession and sale of snake venom are illegal in many countries.

‚óŹEngaging in such activities contributes to the illicit wildlife trade, endangering snake populations and violating conservation laws.

‚óŹLegal consequences, such as fines and imprisonment, may result from involvement in the illegal possession and trade of snake venom.

Ecological Concerns

‚óŹThe extraction of snake venom can lead to significant ecological concerns, as it may involve the capture and harm to snake species.

‚óŹMany snake species are already threatened by habitat loss and over-exploitation.

‚óŹThe demand for snake venom can further contribute to the decline in snake populations.

Conclusion

  • Using snake venom as a recreational drug is a hazardous and potentially life-threatening practice. The lack of scientific knowledge, unpredictable effects, addiction potential, risk of overdose, dangerous administration methods, legal repercussions, and ecological concerns all emphasize the need to avoid this dangerous behaviour and prioritize safety and ethical considerations.

PRACTICE QUESTION

Q. How does illegal wildlife trade in India impact wildlife conservation efforts, and what strategies are being employed to address this issue while promoting the conservation of endangered species?