Poor Indonesian Teens Are Getting High Off Menstrual Pads

A disturbing trend for years with homeless young people is now under a global spotlight.

Streetwise adolescents living in the Indonesian province of Central Java have been using jaw-dropping methods to get buzzed.

They're getting their hands on both new and used sanitary pads, boiling them for roughly an hour to distill the chemicals and then drinking the water.

The local head of the eradication department at the National Drug Agency (BNN) spoke with Indonesian newspaper Jawa Pos this week on the issue.

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"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," Adj. Sr. Comr. Suprinarto explained.

The amount of teenagers doing this to get 'high' is on the rise, according to Sitty Hikmawatty from the Indonesian Child Protection Commission.

"In 2017, there were only a few. Nowadays more and more of them are doing it. This is very disturbing," Hikmawatty told Indonesian site Tempo.

Sanitary pads are trouble-free for local youths to secure as more than a billion of them are thrown away each month, according to VICE.

The method's effect is a feeling of 'flying', with the Indonesian Ministry of Health set to investigate exactly which chemicals are extracted to create the hallucinogenic feeling.

The teenagers in question are homeless and live on the streets in Central Javan locations like Purwodadi, Kudus, Pati, Rembang, and West Semarang.

While poverty in Indonesia (population: 261 million) fell to its lowest level ever in March, almost 26 million citizens still live below the national poverty line.

Forty thousand homeless young people are living in the country, according to the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs.

Over in America, research conducted by the US National Library Of Medicine has estimated 39-70 percent of homeless youth (aged 12-24) abuse drugs or alcohol, which is two to three times higher than their non-homeless peers.

Up to 70 percent of homeless youth abuse drugs or alcohol in America, according to research. Image: Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty.

The study showed drug use is a common approach to numbing the daily experiences of life on the street and alleviating the negative emotional effects of traumatic experiences.

One recurrent practice is inhalant abuse -- known as "huffing" -- which produces an effect somewhat similar to alcohol intoxication.

Substances sniffed to get 'high' include spray paint, deodorants, hairspray, gasoline and nail polish remover.

A US National Survey on Drug Use & Health in 2010 revealed the majority of inhalant abusers (68 percent) were under 18.

Then there's synthetic marijuana, the second most popular illegal drug in America among teenagers, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Known as K2 or "spice" it has severe symptoms like vomiting, racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, seizures or hallucinations.

If you need help in a crisis, or just need someone to talk to, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

Featured image: Getty.

Contact the author: samelia@networkten.com.au.