Delhi’s rave parties are drawing more and more people in search of a narcotic substance called “snakebite” to get a “high”. Snakebites—drugs made from snake venom, and in many cases direct snakebites—are the new exotic substance popular among the high flying drug abusers of the capital.

According to Ishan Gupta (name changed), a Delhi-based PR professional, this kind of experience appeals to those who are looking for a novel effect and a heightened euphoric feeling.

“It’s caught the party scene in the last three-four years, but most people cannot afford it. It’s also not easy to get. People are willing to be bitten by a snake to get high. It heightens the senses apart from giving a prolonged sense of well-being. This makes people come back for it. It’s more potent than any other party drug available,” Ishan Gupta said.

He said, “It would shock people, but most of the people who abuse snake venom use cobra venom, which is processed into a powder. Cobras are found easily with snake charmers and snake smugglers who deal in snake venom.” He added that “The powder is then mixed with drinks for a milder effect, but there have been some deaths. You have to condition your body for it. Snakebite abuse is not something new. Though, it can be put at the extreme end of anti-social behaviour. But this doesn’t deter people from doing it.”

According to people in the know, while party drugs like Dh150-Dh370 cost anywhere between Rs 2,000-Rs 5,000 per pill, a gram of K-72 or K-76 snakebite powder costs around Rs 20,000-25,000 in the national capital. People who make the “snakebite” drug usually buy the venom from smugglers or snake charmers who capture snakes to sell their venom and the other parts in the black market. Narcotics officials estimate that half-a-litre of snake venom sells for millions of rupees in the international market.

Nitika Sharma (name changed), a Gurgaon-based IT professional said that “Snakebite enhances sensations and boosts energy. Revellers get a strong high and can dance for longer hours. The effects stay on from six-seven hours to five-six days depending on the strength of the drug administered. A direct bite usually gives a longer high.”

Officials from the police, excise department and Narcotics Control Bureau have conducted several raids and arrests to stop the peddling of “snakebite”. The drug still finds a way back into the hands of the abusers.

Abusers say that many of the people start using it in school or colleges. It is easily available in places near villages.

“I studied in a boarding school on the outskirts of Delhi and nomadic snake charmers would often provide snakebites to boarders who would venture out of the school walls for it. Young people, many still in their teens, start abusing drugs like cocaine, morphine, meth, smack or drug syringes, even drugs like ecstasy or LSD. But after some time, those substances stop giving them the strong euphoric effect they desire. People who have ample money to spend on drugs keep looking for newer substances. Snakebite is very potent, maybe the most among all party drugs,” Ishan Gupta added.

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