Fake News: Kids Purportedly Smoking Dried, Crushed Bed Bugs to Get High

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Smoking Bed Bugs to Get High

Smoking Bed Bugs to Get High
Netlore Archive: Viral "news video" claims the latest drug-use trend among teens is smoking bed bugs, which purportedly contain a powerful hallucinogen called PH-417. It's a hoax. YouTube.com

Since April 2014, a viral video has been circulating the internet, titled, "Smoking Bed Bugs to Get High." The video begins with a voiceover narration: "It's a new way to get high, and it's called bed bugs." (Pause.) "That's because it is bed bugs."

Then an alleged user describes what a bed bug high is like: "It made me just feel, you know like I was walking through wet concrete."

New "Teen Drug"

At that point, the video announcer explains how this shocking new "teen drug" achieves its intoxicating effects:

"Bed bugs have a known hallucinogen that if smoked or injected can cause major hallucinations. There's no way to extract that active chemical, known as PH-417, so the entire bug is dried, crushed, and then smoked. And sometimes even injected."

Except none of it is true.

Prank revealed

The video is a prank, a homemade mash-up assembled from existing news footage with a real-sounding — but fictitious — narration. Bed bugs are not, in fact, hallucinogenic. While the minuscule insects do produce tiny amounts of certain volatile chemicals associated with mating activities, which give them their distinct "bed buggy" odor, their bodies contain no such substance as PH-417, and there's no way you can get high by smoking them.

The video is an amusing spoof of those "scary new drugs teenagers are doing" exposés so beloved by the mainstream media. The video was first uploaded to LiveLeak.com on April 7, 2014, by John Cain, whose profile states, "All of the videos that I post are mine and made by me." Cain confirmed making the video in a blog post.

Videos Are Fake

The "Phoenix New Times" stated on April 11, 2014, in a report titled, "Smoking Bedbugs" Hoax Video Uses Footage From Bogus Dabbing Report," that the original ABC 15 news segment from which the bed bugs hoax video was assembled had fact-checking issues of its own. Shane Watson, the purported "bedbug" user shown in the video, quickly released a clarifying statement.

"I am not addicted to bedbugs," Watson says in the follow-up video. "The video of me talking about being addicted to bedbugs is a hoax. ... So, if you fell for it, you can't get addicted to bedbugs. I've never attempted it."


The website Wired probably summed it up best: "Every time I think I’ve seen it all, someone comes up with a new hoax," Gwen Pearson wrote on April 11, 2014. "The next thing you’ll tell me is people are smoking roaches," adding that the video was nothing more than an internet hoax.

Snopes, another website that looks into these kinds of things agrees, called the idea of smoking bedbugs cringeworthy — and even dangerous. "The bugs also contain other elements that can cause serious damage to the mind and body, so smoking them can be extremely dangerous," Snopes notes, adding: "Like you didn’t already know that." 

So, despite the seemingly convincing video of the "bedbug scourge," this is another viral hoax that you can cross off your list.