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What Is A Wet (Damp) Addiction? : Treatments, Symptoms

What Is A Wet (Damp) Addiction? : Treatments, Symptoms

Damp, also known as wet and by several other names are marijuana cigarettes or sometimes tobacco cigarettes laced with or dipped into phencyclidine, better known as PCP or angel dust. It is sometimes laced with formaldehyde. Here we look at what it means to be addicted to the use of wet drugs.


Marijuana is listed by the United States as a Schedule I drug. Schedule 1 substances have the following criteria:

(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

These substances also include desomorphine and mescaline. Marijuana itself is not highly addictive.


PCP or phencyclidine is listed as a schedule II drug. The legal descriptors for this schedule are:

(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

(B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.

(C) Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Other substances included on the Schedule II list are fentanyl and oxycodone.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that PCP can Angel dust can lead to violent behavior in PCP users and when compounded by the analgesic effects of it and the superhuman strength created by the euphoric high this violence can lead to fatalities. PCP abuse has led to some horrific crimes both as a single substance or blended with cannabis.

Phencyclidine is considered very addictive. Tolerance increases over time and requires increasing amounts to feel the same effects. It is PCP addiction that most people who engage in the use of wet drugs experience.

One of the street names it goes by is embalming fluid. Perhaps it is because of confusion with actual embalming fluid that formaldehyde is sometimes used to lace the marijuana joints.


This is a component of literal embalming fluid. It is not a scheduled substance. If you ever embalmed a frog as part of a school project, you may have used formaldehyde. It is also commonly used in funeral homes. Formaldehyde is a gas and is included in formalin a common embalming agent that also includes methanol.


The Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that PCP has been found to be present in almost a quarter of street marijuana samples. These however are incidental and not deliberately created wet drugs. Properly prepared, damp, fry, amp, or whatever other names it goes by will contain between 1 and 10g of phencyclidine.

When embalming fluid is used, the percentage of formaldehyde varies from 5-37%, and the methanol content between 9 and 56%.

The different components have different side effects as listed below:

Formaldehyde and ethyl alcohol

These may be:

  • Bronchitis

  • Body tissue destruction

  • Brain damage

  • Lung damage

  • Impaired coordination

  • Inflammation and sores in the throat, nose, and esophagus

  • There have been instances of respiratory failure in people admitted to emergency rooms after use


These can include:

  • Hallucinations

  • Visual disturbances

  • Impaired motor coordination

  • Severe anxiety

  • Paranoia

  • Seizures

  • Respiratory arrest

  • High pain threshold and increased strength


Common side effects are:

  • Mild euphoria and a sense of relaxation

  • Sensory heightening

  • An altered perception of time

  • Increased appetite

  • Higher quantities can result in an acute psychosis including:

  • Hallucinations

  • Delusions

  • Loss of a sense of personal identity

The effects can be cumulative so the impaired coordination can be amplified as it is an effect of more than one substance.

It is the combination of effects of PCP that result in the heinous crimes that can stem from the use of PCP. Paranoia, hallucinations, high pain thresholds, and increased strength merge to create an explosive amalgam that if triggered has a high potential for severe physical harm.

Withdrawal and Treatment

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression

  • Extreme lassitude

  • Poor memory

  • Confusion

  • Anxiety

  • Violent behavior

  • Hallucinations

  • Suicidal thoughts and

  • Delusions

These withdrawal symptoms may last up to three months depending on the length of use.


Treatment is, in the first instance, detoxification followed by therapy. Medical detox is best done under supervision at an inpatient treatment center. This allows staff to deal with the symptoms as they appear and curb aggression and thoughts of suicide.

Other possibilities such as day treatment or an outpatient program exist but are poorer choices than a full-time care facility. The more intensive the care the better the outcome.

As with any addiction, detoxification is merely the first step. PCP is the primary addictive substance in wet drugs and is also intensely psychologically addictive which together with the physical addiction makes the need for dealing with the mental issues of the addiction critical to continued recovery. Following the detox, treatment programs use tools such as cognitive behavioral therapy and other different ways of working through issues.

It is necessary to deal with issues that include the reasons that addiction became possible, any regret or guilt while engaging in wet drug abuse, and then helping provide coping mechanisms to try to help the recovering addict avoid a relapse.


It is a hard journey from addiction to freedom and figures show that 40-60% of people will relapse within 12 months. Wet drugs are no different and their compound effect might be even harder to stay away from in the months following treatment.

A combination drug that is powerfully addictive at both the physical and psychological levels. It can result in severely antisocial behavior which has on more than one occasion resulted in death. Between 1976 and 1978 there were 192 deaths related to PCP in Los Angeles County including PCP consumed as part of wet drugs. These included murders as well suicides.

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