Home Blog Addiction Drug Mixture Called ‘Kush’ in Sierra Leone Sometimes Contains Ground-Up Human Bones, Reports Say

Drug Mixture Called ‘Kush’ in Sierra Leone Sometimes Contains Ground-Up Human Bones, Reports Say

In Freetown, Sierra Leone, a cheap smoking mix that causes a powerful high—made up of cannabis, fentanyl, tramadol, formaldehyde, and reportedly in some cases, ground-up human bones—is sweeping the city and nation as a whole. It’s less a “new drug” and it’s rather more like a new drug mix made by drug manufacturers cutting drugs with cheaper substances that cause an effect. Locals roll the ground-up blend of drugs into joints and share them with friends for a long-lasting high.

Like the “zombie drugs” you see in the U.S. that cause addicts to be frozen in pose on the street (fentanyl or tranq), West African nations report their own version of a “zombie drug” that causes locals to be in a coma-like state. Sierra Leone leaders declared an emergency due to the prevalence of people, mostly young men ages 18-25 who are smoking “kush.” 

Unlike the landrace strain from Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush mountain range, “kush” in Sierra Leone means a constantly changing mix of drugs in a smoking mixture that probably contains potentially physically harmful ingredients—namely various opioids or human bones.

“One of the drug’s many ingredients is human bones—security has been tightened in cemeteries to stop addicts digging up skeletons from graves,” BBC reports. Smoking crushed human bones contributes to the drug’s hypnotic high that lasts about six hours. (Smoking human bones in a separate drug mixture also gained popularity in South America.) A disturbing now-deleted Reddit thread provided information on smoking human bones. 

The reports of grave-robbing added to the nation’s frenzy over this drug, which reportedly took popularity about six years ago. It drew the attention of Sierra Leone’s president. “Our country is currently faced with an existential threat due to the ravaging impact of drugs and substance abuse, particularly the devastating synthetic drug kush,” said Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio.

The country is also concerned about potential long-term effects, mostly due to the addictive properties of the “kush” mixture.

Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital, the only hospital of its kind in the country, says that between 2020 and 2023, admissions specifically for “kush” addicts surged by almost 4,000% to reach 1,865. Dr Abdul Jalloh, head of the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital, said that the President’s emergency declaration is “the right step” and will be “crucial in addressing drug use.”

Options for locals are limited. There is reportedly only one drug rehabilitation center in Freetown. The 100-bed facility was “hurriedly set up in an army training center” earlier this year. Locals, however, say it’s more of a holding center than a rehab center because of its lack of basic facilities.

Locals hope the “kush” craze dies out and other, less harmful, drugs replace it.

Is There Truth Behind Smoked Bones?

The demonization of drugs may also play a role in the reality of how much “kush” actually contains human bones. However, seven cemeteries in Freetown reported grave-robbing for valuables in 2016.

Experiments with various substances that either produce a high or prolong a high have been introduced. Ground-up human bones also have been added to mixtures containing cocaine in other parts of the world.

Vice reported that people in South America are also smoking human bones to get high. The drug mixture in this region also contains extremely harmful ingredients in some cases. Vice reported in 2022 that “Basuco” is now considered the cheapest drug in the world—about 20 cents a hit. It’s made from low-quality cocaine, brick dust, volcanic ash, sulphuric acid, kerosene, and sometimes ground-up human bones. Basuco is described as an epidemic in Colombia. As it contains cocaine, smoking it causes the smoker to compulsively crave another hit. The high for this drug is also shockingly addictive, reported as an epidemic of basuco dependency in South America. 

So where exactly is “kush” being smoked? Mostly in countries in West Africa, where other types of drugs are scarce. The Conversation reports that the drug is reported in both Guinea and Liberia, which border Sierra Leone, making trafficking the drug easy.

Kush costs around five leones per joint, and they’re typically shared between people, with up to 40 joints being consumed in a day. About twenty Sierra Leonean leones (SLL) equals a U.S. dollar. The annual income per capita is around $630.

Drug mixes are common in some African countries, as drugs are cut with cheaper drugs.

Another drug mix, “white pipe”, is a mixture of the hypnotic sedative methaqualone (Mandrax), cannabis, and tobacco, and the drug is smoked in South Africa. South Africa is the leading consumer of Mandrax worldwide, with between 70% and 80% of the drug ending up in this country.

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