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What is Wet Drugs? 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. Understanding what wet drugs are and their impact on individuals is crucial in combating substance abuse. Wet drugs, also known as embalming fluid drugs, refer to illicit drugs like PCP (phencyclidine) or embalming fluid, which are often applied to tobacco or marijuana cigarettes. In this guide, we’ll delve into the dangers of wet drug abuse, their hallucinogenic effects, and the importance of seeking professional help for those struggling with addiction.

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 pcp or 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: Embalming Fluid

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. Abusing wet drugs can lead to severe addiction and dangerous health 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? Tobacco or Marijuana Cigarettes

“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. Understanding how wet drugs affect the brain and body is crucial for recognizing their dangers.

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). Wet drugs affect the brain by activating and disrupting various neurotransmitter systems, such as NMDA receptors, glutamate, dopamine, and serotonin. 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.

Long-Term Consequences of Wet Drug Abuse

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.

Addiction Treatment Services and Options

  • Inpatient Rehabilitation:

    • Inpatient rehabilitation, also known as residential treatment, involves individuals residing within a treatment facility for a specified duration. This structured environment provides intensive care and support.
  • Outpatient Programs:

    • Outpatient programs offer flexibility, allowing individuals to receive treatment while continuing their daily lives. They attend therapy sessions, counseling, and other interventions on a scheduled basis.
  • Detoxification (Detox):

    • Detox is the initial phase of treatment, focusing on safely and systematically removing substances from the body. It is often conducted under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Therapy and Counseling:

    • Various therapeutic modalities, including individual counseling, group therapy, and family therapy, are crucial components of addiction and mental health treatment. These sessions help individuals explore and address underlying issues.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT):

    • MAT involves the use of medications, in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies, to address substance use disorders. It is particularly effective for opioid and alcohol addictions.
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment:

    • Dual Diagnosis Treatment addresses co-occurring mental health disorders alongside substance use disorders. It involves integrated interventions to holistically address both aspects of an individual’s well-being.
  • Holistic Therapies:

    • Holistic approaches incorporate alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and mindfulness. These practices aim to promote overall well-being and support recovery.
  • Support Groups:

    • Support groups, like those following the 12-step model (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous), provide a community for individuals to share experiences, seek guidance, and foster mutual support.
  • Sober Living Homes:

    • Sober living homes offer a transitional and supportive environment for individuals in recovery. They provide a structured living arrangement to reinforce sobriety.
  • Mental Health Treatment:

    • Mental health treatment specifically addresses psychiatric conditions. It may involve therapy, medication management, and other interventions to enhance emotional well-being.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

    • CBT is a goal-oriented therapeutic approach that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It is effective for both addiction and mental health concerns.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):

    • DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with concepts of acceptance and mindfulness. It is particularly beneficial for individuals with emotional dysregulation.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI):

    • MI is a client-centered counseling style aimed at eliciting behavior change by helping individuals explore and resolve ambivalence. It is effective in the early stages of recovery.
  • Residential Treatment Centers:

    • Residential facilities provide immersive and structured treatment experiences for individuals requiring a more extended and intensive intervention.
  • Community-Based Programs:

    • Programs within the community offer accessible and community-centered support for individuals with mental health concerns.
  • Inpatient Mental Health Treatment:

    • Inpatient mental health treatment involves individuals residing within a treatment facility designed to provide a controlled and supportive environment for managing mental health conditions.

Does Insurance Cover Addiction Treatment?

Typically, yes. The coverage of addiction treatment by insurance can vary depending on the type of insurance plan, specific policy details, and the individual’s needs and circumstances. Here are key points to consider regarding insurance coverage for addiction treatment:

  1. Type of Insurance Plan:

    • Different types of insurance plans, such as private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, may have varying levels of coverage for addiction treatment.
  2. In-Network vs. Out-of-Network Providers:

    • Insurance plans often have a network of preferred providers. In-network addiction treatment facilities are generally covered at a higher rate than out-of-network providers. Checking if the facility is in-network can impact coverage.
  3. Verification of Benefits:

    • It is crucial to contact the insurance provider and verify the specific terms of coverage for addiction treatment. This includes checking details such as copayments, deductibles, and any out-of-pocket expenses.
  4. Medical Necessity and Preauthorization:

    • Insurance coverage for addiction treatment may be contingent on a determination of medical necessity. Preauthorization or approval from the insurance company may be required before entering a treatment program.
  5. Level of Care:

    • Different levels of addiction treatment, such as inpatient, outpatient, or intensive outpatient programs, may have different coverage considerations. Some insurance plans may cover certain levels of care more comprehensively.
  6. Length of Treatment:

    • Insurance coverage may be influenced by the length of the treatment program. Some plans may have limitations on the number of days covered, while others may provide more extensive coverage for longer durations.
  7. Parity Laws:

    • Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) in the United States requires insurance plans to offer coverage for addiction services at levels comparable to medical and surgical coverage.
  8. Crisis or Emergency Situations:

    • In cases of immediate need or crisis, insurance plans may cover addiction treatment as part of emergency services. However, it is essential to follow up with the insurance provider for ongoing coverage considerations.
  9. Appeals Process:

    • If an insurance claim for addiction treatment is denied, individuals have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process allows for a review of the denial, and successful appeals can result in coverage being granted.
  10. Out-of-Pocket Expenses:

    • Even with insurance coverage, individuals may still have out-of-pocket expenses, such as copayments or coinsurance. Understanding these costs is essential for financial planning.

Common Insurance Plans Used for Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

Common types of insurance plans used for addiction and mental health treatment include:

  1. Preferred Provider Organization (PPO):

    • PPO plans offer flexibility in choosing healthcare providers, allowing individuals to visit both in-network and out-of-network providers without a referral. PPO plans typically cover a portion of the cost for addiction and mental health rehab services, but out-of-pocket expenses may be higher when using out-of-network providers.
  2. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO):

    • HMO plans require individuals to choose a primary care physician (PCP) who coordinates their care and provides referrals to specialists, including addiction and mental health treatment providers. HMO plans often have lower out-of-pocket costs but may limit coverage to in-network providers, except in emergencies.
  3. Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO):

    • EPO plans combine aspects of both PPO and HMO plans, offering a network of preferred providers for individuals to choose from. While EPO plans do not require a PCP or referrals for specialists, coverage is typically limited to in-network providers, except in emergencies.
  4. Point of Service (POS):

    • POS plans offer individuals the option to receive care from both in-network and out-of-network providers. However, using out-of-network providers may result in higher out-of-pocket costs, and individuals may need a referral from their PCP to see specialists, including addiction and mental health treatment providers.

These insurance plans may vary in terms of coverage, network providers, cost-sharing requirements (e.g., copayments, coinsurance, deductibles), and authorization requirements for addiction and mental health rehab services. It’s essential for individuals to review their insurance plan documents, understand their coverage details, and verify network providers before seeking treatment. Additionally, individuals may need to obtain preauthorization or prior approval for certain rehab services to ensure coverage and minimize out-of-pocket expenses.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, wet drugs pose significant risks to individuals’ health and well-being, with potential consequences ranging from impaired coordination to life-threatening organ failure. Seeking treatment for wet drug abuse is essential for overcoming addiction and regaining control of one’s life. With professional help and support from treatment facilities, individuals can learn coping skills, address withdrawal symptoms, and work towards recovery. Remember, overcoming addiction is possible with the right support and treatment options available.

 

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At California Prime Recovery, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

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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