Wet Drugs and Substance Abuse

What Is a Wet Drug?

Posted on December 23rd, 2016
Posted in Articles, Drug Abuse

By Gideon Hoyle

You may have heard recently about the phenomenon of “wet” drugs. Public health officials use this term to describe tobacco or marijuana cigarettes dipped in one or both of two substances: the hallucinogenic anesthetic PCP (phencyclidine or “angel dust”) and formaldehyde-based embalming fluid. Consumption of these drugs can have a serious, severe or even fatal impact on your health.

Wet Drug Essentials

Researchers trace the origins of the wet phenomenon to the 1970s, when some marijuana users began dipping their cigarettes or “joints” in a liquid form of PCP. During that time, PCP had gained the street name “embalming fluid” among parts of the drug-using and selling community. Some sources believe that this fact eventually led to the actual use of embalming fluid as a PCP substitute in the manufacturing process. Additional terms for the same illicit product include Illy, Fry, Wet-Wet and Purple Rain (a PCP reference). Use seems to be centered among young adults and teenagers.

Why Do People Use Wet Drugs?

Wet drugs have gained popularity because both PCP and embalming fluid have a mind-altering, hallucinogenic effect when burned and inhaled. This effect combines with the already-potent chemical impact of nicotine and marijuana/THC. In addition, a cigarette or joint dipped in embalming fluid burns at an unusually slow rate and provides users with a prolonged drug experience. It’s worth noting that some users smoke a dipped joint or cigarette without having any idea what they’re consuming. In addition, only the manufacturer of one of these drugs knows its true content.

Damaging Health Impact

Use of a wet joint or cigarette can damage your short-term health in a number of ways. The long list of potential problems includes unpleasant or terrifying hallucinations,  paranoid or delusional thinking, angry outbursts, aggressive or violent behavior, depression, vomiting, vision problems, loss of normal body balance, reduced memory function and unconsciousness. Long-term problems associated with smoking cigarettes or joints soaked in embalming fluid or PCP include upper respiratory system inflammation, bronchitis, pneumonia, partial or complete respiratory failure, disrupted growth and development in teenagers, muscle tissue loss, heart attack, brain damage, deterioration of your spinal cord and the non-responsive form of unconsciousness known as a coma. Repeated exposure to embalming fluid can also lead to the development of cancer.

Resources

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: Intelligence Bulletin – Marijuana and Embalming Fluid https://www.dea.gov/pubs/states/newsrel/newark_intel_bulletin_embalming.html

Texas Heart Institute Journal: “Smoking Wet” – Respiratory Failure Related to Smoking Tainted Marijuana Cigarettes                                      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3568288/

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: Phencyclidine https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/pcp.pdf

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