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What is “Wet Drug”? Exploring the Dangers and Effects

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

Welcome to California Prime Recovery, your trusted addiction treatment center in Fountain Valley, CA. In this blog post, we will delve into the topic of “Wet Drug” and shed light on its meaning, dangers, and effects. Our aim is to provide you with valuable information while keeping the content engaging and informative. So, let’s get started on this important topic.

What is “Wet Drug”?

“Wet Drug” refers to a potent and dangerous substance that has gained notoriety in recent years. Also known as “water,” “fry,” or “embalming fluid,” this drug is a combination of phencyclidine (PCP) and embalming fluid. Originally, embalming fluid was designed to preserve and sanitize deceased bodies for funeral purposes. However, its misuse has given rise to the dangerous concoction known as “Wet Drug.”

Wet Drug Components

Here are the main components commonly associated with the “wet” drug:

  1. Phencyclidine (PCP):

    • PCP, also known as angel dust, is a dissociative anesthetic that was initially developed as a surgical anesthetic. It can induce hallucinations, altered perceptions of reality, and a dissociation from the environment. PCP is a potent and unpredictable drug with serious health risks.
  2. Formaldehyde:

    • Formaldehyde is a strong preservative and disinfectant commonly used in embalming fluids. In the context of the “wet” drug, formaldehyde is sometimes used to enhance the effects of PCP. However, formaldehyde is highly toxic and poses severe health risks.
  3. Marijuana or Tobacco Base:

    • The drug combination referred to as “wet” is often applied to a base material such as marijuana or tobacco. The laced material is then smoked, and the combination of PCP and formaldehyde can have profound and unpredictable effects on the central nervous system.

It’s important to note that the term “wet” may be used colloquially to describe different substances or drug combinations in various regions or contexts. The specific formulation of the drug may include additional chemicals or substances, contributing to its unpredictable and dangerous nature.

Wet Drug Uses

“Wet,” also known as “water,” “fry,” or “embalming fluid,” is a street drug that typically consists of a combination of PCP (phencyclidine) and marijuana or tobacco cigarettes soaked in embalming fluid or a mixture of PCP and formaldehyde. While PCP is the primary active ingredient in wet, the addition of embalming fluid or formaldehyde amplifies its hallucinogenic and dissociative effects. Here are some of the reported uses of wet as a drug:

  1. Hallucinogenic Effects: Wet is primarily used for its hallucinogenic properties, which can induce profound alterations in perception, cognition, and mood. Users may experience vivid visual and auditory hallucinations, distortions of time and space, and feelings of detachment from reality.

  2. Euphoria and Intoxication: Like other hallucinogens, wet can produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and intoxication. Users may feel a sense of heightened pleasure and a temporary escape from stress or emotional discomfort.

  3. Alteration of Consciousness: Wet is known for its ability to induce a dissociative state, where users feel detached from their surroundings and their sense of self. This altered state of consciousness can lead to feelings of depersonalization, derealization, and disconnection from reality.

  4. Enhanced Sensory Perception: Some users report experiencing heightened sensory perception while under the influence of wet, including intensified colors, sounds, and tactile sensations. However, these perceptions are often distorted and may not reflect objective reality.

  5. Self-Medication: In some cases, individuals may use wet as a form of self-medication to cope with underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or trauma. However, the use of wet as a means of self-medication is not recommended and can exacerbate existing psychological symptoms.

How is Wet Drug Consumed?

“Wet Drug” can be consumed in various ways, including smoking, injecting, or ingesting. Smoking is the most common method, where the drug is often sprayed onto tobacco or marijuana leaves and then smoked. This method allows for a rapid absorption of the drug into the bloodstream, leading to quick and intense effects.

Wet Drug Onset and Duration

The onset and duration of the effects of the drug combination known as “wet,” which typically includes phencyclidine (PCP) and formaldehyde, can vary depending on factors such as the specific formulation, dosage, and individual response. It’s important to note that the use of substances like “wet” can lead to unpredictable and dangerous effects, making any attempt to quantify onset or duration challenging. However, here are some general considerations:

Onset:

  • The onset of effects after using “wet” is relatively rapid, typically occurring within minutes after consumption. The specific timing can be influenced by factors such as the method of administration (smoking) and individual variations in metabolism.

Duration:

  • The duration of effects is also variable and can last several hours. However, the duration may be influenced by factors such as the amount consumed, the specific composition of the substance, and individual tolerance.

How Long Does Wet Drug Stay in Your System?

The half-life of “wet” or “embalming fluid” as a drug can vary depending on several factors, including the specific formulation of the drug, the individual’s metabolism, and the route of administration. Since “wet” typically contains phencyclidine (PCP) and embalming fluid or formaldehyde, which are both chemicals with their own half-lives, it’s challenging to provide an exact half-life for the combination.

However, it’s important to note that PCP itself has a relatively long half-life compared to many other drugs. The half-life of PCP can range from approximately 7 to 48 hours, depending on factors such as the dose taken and individual differences in metabolism. This means that it can take several days for PCP levels in the body to decrease by half.

As for the embalming fluid or formaldehyde component, there is limited information available about its pharmacokinetics and half-life when used as a recreational drug. However, embalming fluid typically contains formaldehyde, which is rapidly metabolized by the body and has a short half-life of only a few minutes to a couple of hours.

Is Wet Drug Detectable in Your System?

Yes, “wet” or “embalming fluid” as a drug can be detectable through various drug testing methods, depending on the substances present in the specific formulation of the drug and the type of test used. Here’s a brief overview of the detection windows for some common drug testing methods:

  1. Urine Test: PCP, the primary active ingredient in wet, can typically be detected in urine for up to 3 to 7 days after use, depending on factors such as the dose taken, frequency of use, and individual metabolism. It’s important to note that the detection window may vary among individuals.

  2. Blood Test: PCP can generally be detected in blood for a shorter period compared to urine, typically ranging from a few hours to 2 days after use. Blood tests are less commonly used for detecting PCP due to the short detection window and the invasive nature of the test.

  3. Saliva Test: PCP can be detected in saliva for a shorter period compared to urine, typically ranging from a few hours to 1 to 3 days after use. Saliva tests are less invasive than blood tests and may be used in certain situations, such as roadside drug testing.

  4. Hair Follicle Test: PCP and other drugs can be detected in hair follicles for an extended period, sometimes up to 90 days or longer after use. Hair follicle tests are often used to detect past drug use but may not be as sensitive for detecting recent drug use.

It’s important to note that the detection window for “wet” or “embalming fluid” can vary depending on factors such as the specific formulation of the drug, the dose taken, the frequency of use, and individual differences in metabolism. Additionally, the presence of other substances in the drug, such as marijuana or tobacco, may also affect detection times.

How Does Wet Drug Work in the Brain and Body?

“Wet” or “embalming fluid” as a drug primarily affects the brain and body through its primary active ingredient, phencyclidine (PCP). PCP is a dissociative anesthetic that acts primarily as an NMDA receptor antagonist, meaning it blocks the action of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain. Here’s how wet drug works in the brain and body:

  1. NMDA Receptor Blockade: PCP binds to and blocks NMDA receptors, which are involved in the transmission of signals between neurons. By blocking these receptors, PCP disrupts normal communication between brain cells, leading to alterations in perception, cognition, and consciousness.

  2. Glutamate Modulation: NMDA receptors are primarily activated by the neurotransmitter glutamate, which plays a crucial role in synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory. PCP’s blockade of NMDA receptors interferes with the normal functioning of glutamate, leading to disruptions in synaptic transmission and neuronal communication.

  3. Dopamine and Serotonin Release: PCP also affects the release and reuptake of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which are involved in mood regulation, reward processing, and emotional responses. PCP’s actions on dopamine and serotonin systems contribute to its psychoactive effects, including euphoria, hallucinations, and altered mood states.

  4. Dissociative Effects: The blockade of NMDA receptors by PCP leads to a dissociative state characterized by feelings of detachment from reality, oneself, and the environment. Users may experience a sense of disconnection from their surroundings, alterations in body image, and profound changes in perception and consciousness.

  5. Analgesic and Anesthetic Effects: PCP’s blockade of NMDA receptors also contributes to its analgesic and anesthetic properties. It can reduce the perception of pain and induce a state of numbness or insensitivity to sensory stimuli.

  6. Sympathomimetic Effects: PCP can also exert sympathomimetic effects, leading to increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. These physiological changes can contribute to the drug’s stimulant-like effects and increase the risk of cardiovascular complications and overdose.

Overall, the precise mechanisms by which wet drug exerts its effects in the brain and body are complex and not fully understood. However, its actions on NMDA receptors, neurotransmitter systems, and neuronal communication contribute to its psychoactive effects, including dissociation, hallucinations, euphoria, and altered perception. Additionally, the combination of PCP with other substances such as embalming fluid or formaldehyde may further enhance its effects and increase the risk of adverse reactions and toxicity.

 

Wet Drug Side Effects and Risks

Here are some of the potential short-term and long-term side effects:

Short-Term Side Effects:

  1. Hallucinations: PCP can induce intense hallucinations and altered perceptions of reality.
  2. Dissociation: Users may experience a dissociation from their surroundings or a sense of detachment from reality.
  3. Agitation: PCP use can lead to aggressive behavior, restlessness, and agitation.
  4. Confusion: Users may become disoriented and confused, making it difficult to understand their surroundings.
  5. Impaired Coordination: PCP can cause physical impairment, including difficulty with coordination and movement.
  6. Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: Both PCP and formaldehyde can contribute to elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
  7. Respiratory Issues: The use of formaldehyde, a toxic chemical, can lead to respiratory problems.

Long-Term Side Effects:

  1. Psychological Issues: Long-term use of PCP is associated with persistent psychological effects, including anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
  2. Speech and Cognitive Impairment: Prolonged use of PCP may result in speech difficulties and cognitive impairment.
  3. Violent Behavior: Chronic use of PCP has been linked to an increased risk of violent behavior.
  4. Organ Damage: The toxic nature of formaldehyde can contribute to organ damage, particularly affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
  5. Dependency and Addiction: PCP has the potential for psychological dependence and addiction.
  6. Social and Occupational Dysfunction: Long-term use can lead to difficulties in social relationships and occupational functioning.

Risks of Acute Toxicity:

  1. Seizures: PCP use may increase the risk of seizures.
  2. Coma: In severe cases, overdose or toxicity can lead to a comatose state.
  3. Death: In extreme cases, the use of “wet” can result in fatal outcomes.

Is Wet Drug Addictive?

Yes, wet or embalming fluid, which typically contains phencyclidine (PCP) along with other substances like formaldehyde, can be addictive. PCP itself has addictive properties and can lead to the development of physical and psychological dependence when used repeatedly or in high doses.

Addiction to wet drug can develop due to several factors, including:

  1. Neurochemical Changes: PCP affects neurotransmitter systems in the brain, including dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate, which are involved in reward processing and reinforcement. Prolonged use of PCP can lead to neuroadaptations in these systems, contributing to addictive behaviors.

  2. Tolerance: With repeated use, individuals may develop tolerance to the effects of PCP, requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effects. This can lead to escalating use and increased risk of addiction.

  3. Withdrawal Symptoms: Chronic PCP use can result in physical dependence, leading to withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued. Withdrawal symptoms from PCP may include cravings, anxiety, depression, irritability, and sleep disturbances, which can contribute to continued use and difficulty quitting.

  4. Psychological Dependence: In addition to physical dependence, individuals may become psychologically dependent on the euphoric and dissociative effects of PCP. The drug may serve as a coping mechanism for underlying psychological issues or stressors, leading to compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

  5. Environmental and Social Factors: Environmental and social factors, such as peer pressure, access to the drug, and exposure to high-risk environments, can also influence the development of addiction to wet drug.

Can You Overdose on Wet Drug?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on wet drug, also known as embalming fluid or “fry.” Wet typically contains phencyclidine (PCP) along with other substances like formaldehyde or embalming fluid. Overdosing on wet can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms due to the drug’s potent effects on the central nervous system.

Symptoms of a wet drug overdose may include:

  1. Loss of Consciousness: Overdosing on wet can cause a profound loss of consciousness, where individuals may become unresponsive or unconscious.

  2. Respiratory Depression: Wet drug overdose can lead to respiratory depression, characterized by slow or shallow breathing. In severe cases, respiratory depression can result in respiratory arrest, leading to oxygen deprivation and potential brain damage.

  3. Cardiovascular Effects: Wet overdose can cause changes in heart rate and blood pressure, including tachycardia (rapid heart rate), hypertension (high blood pressure), or hypotension (low blood pressure). These cardiovascular effects can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

  4. Seizures: Seizures may occur as a result of wet overdose, leading to involuntary muscle contractions, loss of consciousness, and potential injury.

  5. Psychological Effects: Overdosing on wet can intensify the drug’s psychoactive effects, leading to severe hallucinations, paranoia, agitation, confusion, and psychosis.

  6. Hyperthermia: Wet overdose can cause a dangerous increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), which can lead to heatstroke, dehydration, and organ damage.

  7. Death: In severe cases, wet drug overdose can be fatal, particularly if not promptly treated. Death may occur due to respiratory failure, cardiovascular complications, or other medical emergencies resulting from overdose.

It’s important to seek immediate medical attention if someone is suspected of overdosing on wet drug. Prompt medical intervention can help stabilize the individual’s condition, manage symptoms, and prevent further complications. Additionally, naloxone, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses, may be administered in certain cases of wet overdose to counteract respiratory depression and other life-threatening effects.

Long-Term Consequences

Long-term consequences of using wet drug, which typically contains phencyclidine (PCP) along with other substances like formaldehyde or embalming fluid, can be severe and have lasting effects on physical, mental, and social well-being. Here are some of the potential long-term consequences of wet drug use:

  1. Physical Health Effects:

    • Organ Damage: Prolonged use of wet drug can lead to damage to various organs, including the brain, heart, kidneys, and liver. Chronic use may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney dysfunction, and liver damage.
    • Respiratory Problems: Inhaling the fumes from wet or smoking wet-laced cigarettes can damage the respiratory system, leading to chronic cough, bronchitis, and respiratory infections.
    • Neurological Damage: PCP in wet drug can have neurotoxic effects on the brain, potentially leading to cognitive impairment, memory problems, and neurological disorders.
  2. Psychological Health Effects:

    • Psychiatric Disorders: Chronic use of wet drug has been associated with an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, and schizophrenia-like symptoms.
    • Persistent Psychosis: Some individuals may experience persistent psychosis even after discontinuing wet drug use, characterized by hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and impaired social functioning.
    • Memory and Cognitive Impairment: Long-term use of PCP-containing drugs can impair memory, attention, and cognitive function, affecting academic or occupational performance and daily functioning.
  3. Social and Behavioral Effects:

    • Social Isolation: Chronic drug use can lead to social withdrawal, isolation, and difficulties maintaining relationships with friends, family, and loved ones.
    • Legal Problems: Engaging in illegal drug use, possession, or distribution of wet drug can lead to legal consequences, including arrest, fines, and imprisonment.
    • Financial Instability: Drug addiction and dependence can lead to financial difficulties, as individuals may spend significant amounts of money to obtain drugs and may experience challenges maintaining employment or meeting financial obligations.
  4. Risk of Addiction and Dependence:

    • Physical Dependence: Continued use of wet drug can lead to physical dependence, where individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or reduce drug use.
    • Psychological Dependence: Wet drug can also lead to psychological dependence, where individuals may feel a compulsive urge to use the drug to cope with stress, negative emotions, or underlying mental health issues.
  5. Risk of Accidents and Injuries:

    • Impaired Judgment: The psychoactive effects of wet drug can impair judgment, coordination, and decision-making skills, increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, and unintentional harm to oneself or others.
    • Driving Under the Influence: Operating a vehicle or heavy machinery while under the influence of wet drug can be extremely dangerous and may lead to accidents, injuries, or fatalities.

Seeking Help and Overcoming Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to “Wet Drug” or any other substances, it is crucial to seek professional help. California Prime Recovery is dedicated to providing comprehensive addiction treatment services tailored to individual needs. Our experienced team of healthcare professionals understands the challenges faced by individuals battling addiction and offers support, therapy, and guidance throughout the recovery journey.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

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If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390

FAQs

Yes, standard drug tests can detect the presence of “Wet Drug” in the system.

Some effects can be reversible with proper treatment and support, but long-term damage may persist.

Yes, “Wet Drug” is illegal and classified as a controlled substance due to its dangerous nature.

Yes, addiction to “Wet Drug” can be treated with the help of professional addiction treatment services and therapies.

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