Drug users have been known to do some dangerous and bizarre things. You may have seen or heard this unusual behavior of smoking embalming fluids reported in the news. Drugs affect the brain, which means that users can become impaired, and that can lead to poor judgment and decision-making. Unfortunately, in today’s world, this isn’t unusual. Drugs and addiction impact all demographics without discrimination, so anyone can fall victim to chasing the feelings they provide. What you might be surprised to hear is the type of substances that people use to reach those feelings – one of which is embalming fluid.
What is Embalming Fluid?
Embalming fluid is a mixture of chemicals that is used to prevent decomposition in bodies after death. The chemicals include formaldehyde, methanol, glutaraldehyde, and others. These chemicals work as preservatives, disinfectant and sanitizing agents, and additives to restore a natural appearance for viewing a body after death for both funerals and medical research in labs.
Does Embalming Fluid Get You High?
The embalming fluid isn’t actually a drug that is used by itself, as it cannot be taken in pure form. Instead, it is used as a solvent or carrier for the real drug, which is PCP (phencyclidine), also called angel dust. PCP is very potent and dangerous, and it often makes users do unimaginable things. The embalming fluid is sometimes used for the dissolution of PCP, but is used alone as well. Users will then dip their tobacco or marijuana cigarettes in the liquid to enhance the feeling they get from smoking. This is known as smoking a “wet drug.”
Is Angel Dust or Sherm Embalming Fluid?
Angel dust is another name for phencyclidine, or PCP. It is not the same as embalming fluid, though the two can produce similar effects. PCP is a hallucinogen that is manufactured illegally, and its use is growing in a manner similar to the growth of crack cocaine use. It seems to be a substance of choice among users because the chemicals that are needed to produce PCP are inexpensive and easy to buy. Additionally, while it has to be manufactured clandestinely, it doesn’t require special lab equipment or a chemist to do so.
PCP is made in two forms, powder and liquid. Because PCP cannot be dissolved in water, it has to be added to a solvent like embalming fluid. PCP in powder form requires hydrochloride (HCI) gas to be bubbled into or concentrated HCI acid added into the liquid. The phencyclidine hydrochloride that results, in pure form, is a white crystal-like powder that easily dissolves in water. In this form, it could be compressed into tablet form. However, because PCP is typically made in makeshift labs, it usually contains contaminants. As a result, the color may vary from tan to brown. The consistency of the drug can be anywhere from a powder form to a gummy mass.
Sherm is not the same as embalming fluid either, but embalming fluid may be a part of a sherm. Essentially, sherm, also called shermstick, is either tobacco or marijuana cigarettes that are dipped into PCP, embalming fluid, or a combination of both. They get the name from the brown paper Nat Sherman cigarettes that they resemble.
What Are the Side Effects of Smoking Embalming Fluid?
Embalming fluid produces a high that is similar to that of PCP. Wet drugs, those that are dipped in either PCP, embalming fluid, or a mixture of the two, are known on the streets as fry, dip, water, and superweed. These are extremely dangerous drugs that come with serious risks that can be life-threatening. Even users who only use them occasionally are at risk of suffering long-term health consequences from doing so.
How wet drugs affect each user can vary widely. It depends on factors like how much of the drug was used and what exactly the chemical makeup of the substance is. Because PCP is manufactured illegally, there is no consistency to its makeup. There may be chemicals that are not sifted out during the manufacturing process. These chemicals typically have more of an effect on the risks, rather than the high, but because of the inconsistency, it’s hard to say. The effects that users look for in wet drugs include:
- Euphoric feeling
- Adrenaline rush
- Feeling detached from reality
- Self-delusions, like superhuman strength
It’s said that the delusions and sensations of wet drugs, those dipped in PCP and/or embalming fluid, can make users feel like superman. The additional strength that users feel has even allowed them to break a pair of handcuffs. Wet drugs are used for the same reasons that other hallucinogens are – because the users want to escape from reality. While many users dip marijuana joints into PCP or embalming fluid, the effects of the liquid overpower the effects of the marijuana.
While many of the risks of wet drugs are known, they can still be hard to predict. With PCP, many of the toxins of the manufacturing process don’t get filtered out, so the effects and risks can be unpredictable. Some of the common dangerous effects of wet drugs are:
- Violent or aggressive behavior
- Reduced ability to feel pain
- Blackouts or memory loss
- Impaired coordination
- Respiratory depression or failure
- Schizophrenic-like symptoms, including paranoia and delusions
- Accidental suicide or self-injury due to delusional thinking
You’ve likely seen news reports that detail some of the horrific crimes that have been committed while someone was under the influence of wet drugs. PCP users often report that they cannot remember becoming violent because they have memory gaps while doing so. The risks are even greater when embalming fluid is used. There are very few reasons for users to choose embalming fluid over PCP, except that it’s legal and more accessible. While the high from embalming fluid is like that from PCP, embalming fluid is more toxic. The risks of using embalming fluid include:
- Lung damage
- Brain damage
- Destruction of body tissue
- Immediate coma
Can I Buy Embalming Fluid?
Embalming fluid is typically associated with funeral homes and morgues. However, it can also be bought directly from chemical companies. Dealers usually take another route though, by obtaining embalming fluid from other people who work in an industry where it is used, like funeral homes, hospitals, and government morgues.
Treatment for Wet Drug Abuse
Like other dangerous drugs, wet drug abuse and addiction should be treated with medically supervised detox first. Even though the withdrawal symptoms from PCP and embalming fluid are not usually life-threatening, they can be extremely unpleasant. That presents a higher risk of relapse. The withdrawal symptoms of wet drugs include:
- Intense craving
- Disorientation and confusion
- Depression and anxiety
It is usually recommended that people seeking treatment for wet drug abuse do so in an inpatient or residential, treatment facility. The around-the-clock care and support help keep patients from relapsing in the first weeks of recovery, which are a very vulnerable time. In treatment, patients have the opportunity to learn a variety of coping skills to help them, as well as therapy and peer support. A drug and alcohol treatment program will provide users with the tools that are needed to regain control of their lives and get started with recovery.
PCP, embalming fluid, and wet drug abuse don’t have to be a life sentence. If you are suffering from addiction, get help now. You will be glad you did.