Dangers Of Using Tin (Aluminum) Foil To Smoke Drugs

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 1, 2023

Using aluminum foil to abuse drugs is not uncommon. Like all types of drug abuse, smoking substances using foil is not without risks or potentially serious side effects.

Dangers Of Using Tin Foil To Smoke Drugs

There are many types of drugs, including opioids and perscription amphetamines, that may be smoked using tin foil to heat the substance over a flame and inhale the vapors.

This method of substance abuse can be very dangerous, and may lead to a number of health issues including drug overdose and death.

Why Smoke With Tin Foil?

The intention of doing drugs is to get high, to experience euphoria, and to not have to deal with anything that might bring the person down. This can lead to a person feeling as though they need to do whatever it takes to get as high as possible.

Smoking any drug using aluminium foil will result in a more immediate high. The smoke is inhaled into the lungs, which gives immediate access to the bloodstream. The blood quickly carries the drug across the blood-brain barrier, and the person becomes intensely intoxicated by the substance.

Only intravenous drug use produces a faster high, but IV drug use carries a significantly higher risk of HIV, hepatitis, other diseases, or infection.

What Drugs Can Be Smoked With Tin Foil?

Essentially, any drug in powder or black tar form can be smoked using tin foil. A few illicit drugs that are smoked with aluminum foil are heroin, cocaine, and meth/crystal meth (methamphetamine).

However, it is becoming popular among some drug users to crush up prescription pills such as painkillers or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications, and smoke them with foil.

How Does Smoking With Foil Work?

Individuals with heroin addiction using tin foil to heat the drugs and inhale the vapors may call it “chasing the dragon”. In recent history, this term has been used in reference to individuals who are smoking meth as well.

It is not unusual to hear this term used when someone is smoking another type of drug with aluminum foil.

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Placing the drug on the foil and holding a heat source under the aluminum foil is the common method for smoking drugs with foil. The person then inhales the smoke or vapors.

One of the reasons a person may choose to smoke heroin, cocaine, or meth as opposed to injecting it is to avoid leaving track marks on the skin. Smoking using tin foil requires less drug paraphernalia that is more easily disposed of.

Health Effects Of Smoking Drugs

Drug use of any kind can cause health problems. A person who decides to smoke drugs can end up living with a number of unwanted health issues.

There are health issues related to smoking specific types of drugs as well.

Many of the issues associated with smoking drugs on tin foil are localized in the respiratory system or the brain. In the brain, a disease called leukoencephalopathy can occur, usually when smoking heroin.

Leukoencephalopathy is when the white matter in the brain degenerates, and it can also exacerbate symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Common Types Of Drug Paraphernalia

It is not always easy to know what drug paraphernalia looks like, or what ordinary household items can be used to do drugs, such as tin or aluminum foil. Knowing what to look out for and what to do if you find drug paraphernalia can help you save the life of a friend or family member.

Simple things found around the house can be used for drugs, such as:

  • spoons
  • belts
  • sandwich baggies
  • razor blades
  • mirrors
  • cigarette cellophane
  • straws
  • pens
  • money
  • bottle caps
  • copper scrubbers

Many other seemingly harmless items are used to mask or hide paraphernalia, including silk roses (to place in glass bongs or pipes for smoking cannabis), fake or bottomless soda cans, and other items.

If You Find Drug Paraphernalia, What’s Next?

Because so many household items can be used to do drugs, you may feel doubtful that you have found anything that confirms that your loved one has been dabbling in drug abuse.

If the items you find seem to have char marks or are black with soot, or seem to have a powdery or sticky residue to them, chances are they are abusing drugs in some way.

The best thing you can do for your loved one is to consider some form of addiction treatment options for them. In the short-term, disposing of the drug paraphernalia that you find may deter them for a brief amount of time.

Find A Substance Abuse Treatment Program Today

If you or your loved one are living with addiction, reach out to AddictionResource.net and get on the path to long-term sobriety.

Please contact our team today for more information about drug rehab centers that can address your unique needs.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 1, 2023
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