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:
- sandwich baggies
- razor blades
- cigarette cellophane
- 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.
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, like painkillers or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) meds, and smoke them with foil.
The following is a list of some prescription pills that could be smoked with tin foil:
- ADHD medications
- methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana)
- dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
- amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
- lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
- opioid painkillers
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. However, 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 struggling with a number of unwanted health effects.
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.
Some other health problems associated with smoking drugs include:
- severe bronchospasms similar to those in asthma attacks
- lung infections
- burns on lips or tissue in the mouth
- vitamin or mineral absorption issues
- damage to the throat and lungs due to heat
- if any bacteria or disease is present in the drug, it will be transmitted into the body
In addition, there are health issues related to smoking specific types of drugs.
Health problems linked to smoking stimulants:
- blood pressure spikes
- problems with blood flow within the brain
- chest pain
- tooth enamel issues
- blood vessel wall damage
Smoking depressants, like heroin, barbiturates, or benzodiazepines can lead to:
- severe respiratory depression
- fatal asthma attacks
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- early onset emphysema
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.
However, 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 did find may deter them for a brief amount of time.
Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
Drug addiction and smoking drugs is a worldwide problem, it is not just localized to the United States. If you or your loved one are struggling with a substance abuse problem, or a health problem related to smoking drugs with tin foil, there is help available.
The majority of substance abuse recovery programs offer individualized treatment plans that are tailored to the person seeking treatment. This allows for a unique experience that can help lead you or your loved one on the path of sobriety.
Please reach out to us today and help us to understand your unique healthcare substance use disorder needs. We can help you find a drug abuse rehab program to meet the needs of you or your loved one.
Published on October 30, 2020
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
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- Drug Enforcement Administration — Chasing The Dragon Discussion Guide
- Federal Bureau of Investigation — Chasing The Dragon: The Life Of An Opiate Addict
- Journal of Neurology — Different routes of heroin intake cause various heroin-induced leukoencephalopathies
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Commonly Used Drug Charts
- Public Health England — Aluminium foil for smoking drugs
- PLoS One — Trends in use of prescription stimulants in the United States and Territories, 2006 to 2016
- Praxis — Foil Smoking/Heroin Inhalation