Documentary ResearchΒ 
Sound Design
Film DirectionΒ 

VICE ASIA : INHALING FIRE Scorpion venom smoking in KPK-Pakistan.

VICE ASIA approached FT.WASTUDIO to explore the enigmatic and unpredictable terrain of Peshawar, delving into certain controversial and eyebrow-raising drug practices such as smoking scorpion venom that appear to be emerging in the region. Watch one of the clips from the documentary below.


In the arid and hot areas spanning from the Khyber and Mohmand districts to Matani, an underground trend known as scorpion smoking has been quietly gaining traction. VICE explores this phenomenon by investigating the process of poaching scorpions, the creation of the drug itself, its consumption methods, interviewing potential users, understanding its popularity, and delving into its supposed psychedelic effects. 

Mustafa Khan, our host, embarked on a quest to uncover the mysteries surrounding this practice. Hailing from Karachi with Pashtun roots, he holds a deep fascination for his cultural heritage. Despite residing in a city where substances like hash are easily available, the concept of scorpion smoking was entirely new to him, sparking a keen interest in learning more. Intrigued by the notion, he heard about this phenomenon as a “myth” from a friend and decided to delve deeper into the matter. To explore further, he sought the expertise of Izhar Ullah, a seasoned journalist based in Peshawar, who has been extensively covering this story for years.

Azeemullah, a former member of KPK’s narcotics control department and our designated researcher for this video, has extensively traversed the province for several years. His investigations have identified addicts in districts such as Bannu, Kohat, Karak, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Charsadda, and Batkhela. His findings indicate that the drug is not an uncommon habit among individuals in these regions.


With over one million views, in this episode of VICE, scorpion smokers, rehab patients, journalists and experts engaged in researching the trending drug across Peshawar. Among them was IzharUllah, a local journalist who initially documented this drug trend in a newspaper article for DAWN in 2016. Collaborating closely with students of Sahibzada Jawad in the tribal districts of Khyber and Mohmand, the students demonstrated the methods of trapping these scorpions.

This documentary aims to delve into the nature of this specific addiction, examining its prevalence among men, women, and children. It seeks to uncover the reasons behind the cause of scorpion usage, exploring the influence of provincial myths, narratives, and cultural elements associated with using scorpions to achieve a psychedelic experience. Furthermore, the docu-episode sheds light on what the addiction and use of other drugs like METH signifies within the community.

In Peshawar our host “Moose”, also known as Mustafa,Β  interviewsΒ  IzharUllah, who stumbled upon the story and unveiled insights into the secretive practice of scorpion smoking prevalent across the region. The documentary also highlights the misconception regarding the rarity of this drug and explores the absence of laws and regulations governing such activities in Pakistan, raising questions about their legality. Additionally, the film underscores the impact of scorpion addiction on the availability of scorpions for medicinal purposes, which are vital in treatments for diseases like cancer and AIDS.


Due to stringent laws on synthetic substances, the use of scorpions for drug consumption has surged. Law enforcement is familiar with this trend but lacks specific regulations against it, creating a complex situation. Scarcity of other drugs contributes to its popularity, similar to scenarios in prisons where addicts resort to lizards and scorpions when unable to access their drug of choice. In Sudan, a substitute made from a Giraffe’s liver emerged due to bans on plant-based intoxicants.


Although technically legal in Pakistan, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province recently banned scorpion use due to potential irreparable environmental impacts reported by DAWN. Mass hunting of scorpions disrupts the ecosystem, impacting the food chain as scorpions are preyed upon by gecko lizards and snakes, potentially upsetting natural balance and leading to an increase in harmful species detrimental to the environment.Β Watch the documentary below.


There are conflicting reports on the effects of smoking scorpions. Some suggest hallucinogenic and euphoric sensations similar to Psilocybin, while others compare it to a heightened sense of withdrawal and dissociation experienced with hash smoking, but more intense and negative

Moose also conducts interviews with several users, delving into their personal experiences with the drug and other drugs, their introduction to it, and its impact on their lives. The discussions revolved around the drug’s accessibility, the cultural significance surrounding it, and the transformative effect it had on their lives. Moose’s journey highlighted community struggles including lack of opportunities, education, mental health issues, and socio-economic challenges affecting users. The focus extended to the long-term societal impact, emphasizing how drug users may detrimentally affect future generations and the influence of collective cultural habits within specific communities.