Congo government working to stop use of "bombe"

The dangers of bomb

“This drug is very dangerous,” the leader of the Congolese addiction programme Patrice Kapia was quoted as saying in Der Spiegel. “It causes heart and lung problems, and on the long term, cancer.”

There have also been reports of deaths after bombé consumption. Kapia says that the ingredients from the catalytic converters could be especially poisonous.

What is bombé? 

According to Reuters, the word “bombé” means “powerful” in Lingala, a language spoken by more than eight million people in the northern parts of Congo.

The drug is made using crushed powder from a car’s catalytic converter. The car parts contain deposits like zinc oxide, platinum and rhodium.

According to Der Spiegel, a laboratory in Antwerp, Belgium, has analysed the effect of each individual component. But the experts still face a lot of unknowns.

They believe it’s possible that the substances from the catalytic converter set off a chemical reaction with the rest of the drug mixture containing substances like tramadol, dolarene, nitrile, ampicillin and, in some cases, traces of heroin.

Those who use bombé often, also mix it with sleeping tablets, sedatives or add it to tobacco. The drug is often snorted. After taking it, users first become euphoric, but then they begin to move more and more slowly.

People who use the drug refer to themselves as “zombies” because they can fall asleep while standing.

@iOriho Users of “Bombé”, a cheap but powerful drug, call themselves “the zombies” because after taking it in the middle of the day, they sleep standing, motionless, scratching, crying or crying. What can be done? What's govts response 🤔? — Alexander Oriho (@iOriho) November 21, 2021



Congolese president Felix Tshisekedi said the toxicity of bombé is being studied by a Commission of the Ministery of Health.

“It should be borne in mind that this social phenomenon calls for the collective responsibility of the whole nation,” he said in a report of the meeting council of ministers.

Patrice Milambo, the director of the national programme against drug addiction and toxic substances, called bombé an emergency and a public health disaster.

“It’s a complicated phenomenon,” Milambo said.

The effects of driving while on drugs

The blue light of a police car | Getty Images
The blue light of a police car | Getty Images

Spoiler alert: drugged driving is just as much of a crime as drunk driving. Driving while impaired leads to poor judgment and expensive accidents that’ll be on your permanent record. So whether recreational marijuana is legal in your state or not, stay off the road.

And keep your catalytic converter strapped to your car. In fact, you should take precautions to protect catalytic converters, especially considering there’s a bit of a car part shortage. Replacing it would likely cost more than any thief would be able to sell it for. In short, just be safe, and say no to drugs.

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