Picture this: You’re hanging out with your beau, who’s just inhaled a handful of tasty shrooms. Things start to heat up — you have a little kiss, maybe you fuck — either way, bodily fluids are exchanged. Suddenly, you remember that he’s tripping. Afraid to harsh his vibe, you head to the r/shrooms subreddit, where you type the following, unpunctuated cry for help: “Question!!! My bf is on shrooms right now and I’d never do it because how bad I have anxiety and health problems but we kissed and had sex this cannot be in my blood stream now correct and get me high? I’m really scared.”
In the actual comments under this actual frantic query, most redditors responded with things like, “You are, and I mean this in the kindest way possible, a hypochondriac,” and, more simply, “Oh honey, no.” Others took the question more seriously, using it as an example of how naïveties like this stem from a lack of education about illicit drugs. “The ambiguity surrounding recreational use directly causes anxiety at the least, and actual physical harm at worst, as people do [things] or worry about things they normally wouldn’t if they were adequately prepared,” wrote Ya_Boy_Joy.
Continuing on their reign of impenetrable logic, they added: “Not only is it not possible to sexually transmit substances, [but] even if it was, the amount of substance that could possibly be contained in your boyfriend’s saliva or semen would be realistically so minuscule that you wouldn’t experience anything. You have nothing to worry about.”
That makes sense for shrooms, which are generally imperceptible at very small doses. But could a contact high from kissing be conceivable with another drug? It’s certainly plausible with food — for example, if someone with a peanut allergy kisses another person who just ate peanuts, they can be at risk of a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction (even hours after consuming them). Redditor Avalonkoa believes it’s at least possible with meth, too. Recalling a time when they had sex while on the drug, they said: “She had never done it, and didn’t know I was on it. After sex, we were just laying in bed, and she was talking about how hyper she was and how strange she felt. Rapid heartbeat, wired and wide awake. She definitely got high from contact with bodily fluids.”
When another redditor suggested this was also possible with LSD, our old friend Ya_Boy_Joy responded: “The only way that would be possible is if you were to kiss your partner while the substance is still in your mouth, and even then, there is such a minuscule amount of substance per dose.”
Ian Bollinger, a scientist and co-founder of the testing laboratory Hyphae Labs, suggests the opposite, though. “When it comes to LSD, it takes such a little amount of the compound (~100 micrograms) to induce a noticeable effect,” he tells me. “I argue that it is possible that a subject who exchanges fluids with individuals in the throes of an LSD trip can transfer bioavailable compounds from the user to the subject.” Despite there being, as he puts it, no “published or vetted data” about contact highs from kissing, Bollinger says that “we excrete these compounds during the trip in a number of our bodily fluids,” including blood, urine, sweat and saliva. Similarly, Bollinger believes that MDMA and amphetamines could also be transferred from the user to the subject via said fluids.
This argument makes sense when it comes to the 2016 case of Canadian athlete Shawn Barber, who tested positive for trace amounts of cocaine, but was allowed to compete in that summer’s Rio Olympics after forensic toxicologists determined that he’d inadvertently absorbed the coke while kissing a woman the previous night. Although Barber’s lawyer asserted that it was “scientifically impossible to have taken [that] amount of cocaine intentionally,” David Juurlink, the head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, was skeptical. “I can’t say it’s impossible,” he told the publication, “but it sounds extraordinarily improbable to me.”
Juurlink’s view is backed up by a doctor on the health-care site HealthTap, who — responding to a query about cannabis and kissing — said it would only be possible to test positive on a drug test “if you swallow three gallons of his/her saliva.”
Drug testing results aside, Bollinger believes that it is possible for someone to pass at least some of their high onto someone else via bodily fluids. “Whether or not there’s enough excretion of the compounds to induce a substantive experience for the subject has yet to be understood,” he explains. “My logic is centered on the low-dose threshold of some of these compounds, tied to their known excretion through bodily fluids, being the possible cause for a ‘kiss-induced trip.’”
Furthermore, even if a transfer high from kissing is near impossible, you can allegedly still get a contact high without doing anything at all. According to Verywell Mind, some people can pick up and mirror the mood of an intoxicated person, or might even get a “flashback” to a time they were high, enabling them to experience some “perceptual changes.” Though, the publication admits, the science of contact highs is very under-researched.
Nevertheless, until there’s more concrete evidence, it seems fair to assume that you can’t get high from just kissing someone who’s tripping. But don’t worry, you can always kiss while you’re hotboxing instead.