Friday, February 6, 2009

Cheesing in South Park

The Legend: "Cheesing" is the act of deliberately inhaling cat urine to get high.

Status:  False


South Park, an award-winning animated TV show created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is the source of this legend. The show's success lies in awesome graphics and writing, and the unparalleled satirical presentation of current events.

In 2007, Newsweek reported on a new drug phenomenon in Dallas, Texas called Cheese Heroin. Cheese is a small amount of heroin mixed with a larger amount of crushed acetaminophen (Tylenol) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Generally, cheese heroin, so named for it's shared appearance with parmesan cheese, is only 2-8% heroin, compared to 30% found in the more common black tar heroin. It was called "starter heroin" because it was being used by adolescents as young as 9-years-old. Cheese heroin is serious stuff. 40 users under the age of 18 have died.

Critics were all over the Newsweek article saying that there were no scientists used as sources for what was being described as an emerging drug epidemic. Others complained that the media was reporting unsubstantiated numbers, sensationalizing this new drug, and giving too much detail on how to make it. There was fear that media irresponsibility would cause a spread of this drug which for two  years had only been found in a very localized area of Texas.

Given the funny name and the media mishandling of the news, it became prime fodder for Parker and Stone, and the practice of "cheesing" in South Park, Colorado was born, (Episode 170, "Major Boobage" Aired 3-26-08). "Cheeesing" involved attaching a male cat to a specialized apparatus and stimulating him to spray his urine into the user's face. Inhaling the male cat urine created an intense high.

Is it real? No. You cannot get high on cat urine. Ammonia inhalation can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and respiratory tract. In some cases cat urine can contain bacteria, such as Coxiella burnetii, which when inhaled through airborne exposure can result in Q fever, pneumonia, and even endocarditis and death, (Bartelink et. al. 2000).

Inhaling cat urine can make you a little sick or a lot sick, but not high. Cheesing is a parody, made to show drug use as ridiculous.  I mean, to do it you need a special harness for your cat. 'Nuff said.