Illegal drugs that are sold on the street (such as synthetic drugs, heroin, cocaine, or ecstasy) are often marketed by drug dealers are being pure, which is enticing for those who are looking for a good high. However, these drugs are rarely ever as pure as promised and often contain many unknown additives, such as baking soda, sugar, or flour.
Many of these drugs are manufactured in secret illegal laboratories that are not monitored or held to any safety standards whatsoever. As a result, the people who make these drugs can add just about anything they want, including more sinister additives and chemicals that can cause serious physical harm or even death. Ecstasy, especially, is very unlikely to ever be pure, as it is often cut with meth, caffeine, and other substances.
Despite the many harmful ingredients found in any single batch of street drugs, they are often easy to find and buy online, mislabeled as “plant food” or with warnings like “not for human consumption” to evade the law. However, you may want to think twice before buying or consuming those drugs. Here are a few disturbing ingredients that may be lurking in drugs that are sold on the street or online.
Often found in cocaine, levamisole is a dewormer that is often used to deworm livestock. In humans, however, this anti-parasitic medication is highly potent and can drastically reduce white blood cells and weaken the immune system, leaving you more prone to infection and illness.1,2
- Battery acid
Battery acid is often found in methamphetamine. It contains sulfuric acid, which is a very strong and corrosive chemical. If ingested, it can cause severe burns and tissue damage that can cause severe breathing problems, fever, burns, and pain in the mouth and throat, vomiting, chest pain, and rapid pulse.3
- Drain cleaner
Drain cleaner may be used to make meth. It contains the poisonous ingredient sodium hydroxide, which can cause severe abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, burns in the mouth and throat, chest pain, and vomiting, among many other unpleasant side effects.4
- Lantern fuel
Another disturbing ingredient that may be found in meth is lantern fuel. If consumed, it can cause chemical pneumonia, which can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing up blood or mucus, and burning of the lips, mouth, and throat.5,6
Meth “cooks” may use antifreeze to produce their product, which is not only dangerous and explosive during the production process, but it’s also harmful to consumers. Ingesting antifreeze can cause a variety of symptoms, such as loss of coordination, slurred speech, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and coma.7,8
Formaldehyde can sometimes be used to make marijuana that is referred to as “wet” or “fry.” This type of marijuana is often dipped or laced with embalming fluid and formaldehyde, phencyclidine (PCP), or both. Inhaling these substances can cause lung damage and respiratory failure.9
Smoking bug-spray laced drugs is not a good idea, but it’s a certain method of meth abuse called “wasping.” Some drug users do this to achieve a new kind of high, but since these chemicals are not designed to be consumed by humans, they can produce some serious side effects in high doses, including twitching, tremors, throat irritation, respiratory depression, seizures, and coma.10
As unbelievable as it may sound, gasoline is also sometimes an additive that’s found in cocaine. Gasoline contains hydrocarbons that can enter the bloodstream and cause issues like vomiting, drowsiness, vertigo, confusion, convulsions, lung damage, and in severe cases, heart failure.11,12
- Paint thinner
One tell-tale sign of a meth lab is the presence of paint thinner, among other chemicals.13 This is another possible ingredient used to make the drug. Symptoms of paint thinner consumption may include burning in the throat, mouth, or stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and shortness of breath.14
- Hydrochloric acid
Krokodil manufacturers use codeine as a base and add other chemicals such as hydrochloric acid to produce powerful psychoactive effects. As a result, people who abuse krokodil experience painful sores and scaly skin around injection sites and also suffer side effects like gangrene, bone infections, organ failure, vein inflammation, and pneumonia.15
- Laundry detergent
Laundry detergent is a common ingredient that is used to cut heroin or cocaine. It contains phosphates and acidic substances that can lead to harmful side effects like difficulty breathing, vomiting, burning in the mouth and throat, vision loss, and more.
Sometimes dealers may use hairspray to solidify powdered cocaine into bricks after tampering with the purity.16 The typical hairspray used today contains polymers in a solvent like alcohol and propellant (often isobutane). Although the primary ingredient of concern in hairspray is the alcohol, it can interact poorly with other substances such as cocaine because both substances are metabolized through the liver, which produces cocaethylene. If it builds up in the body, cocaethylene can damage the liver or other organs.17
- Other drugs
Illegal drug manufacturers may also cut drugs like heroin, cocaine, or ecstasy with other dangerous substances like fentanyl, carfentanil, and lidocaine, an anesthetic. Mixing these various drugs can be very dangerous and often produces unpredictable side effects and health problems.
This disturbing list of ingredients and additives that may be found in commonly abused drugs is proof that even just a single use of drugs isn’t worth the risk. Almost any drug could be cut with a number of unknown substances and chemicals.