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Drugs like crack cocaine and crystal meth can be smoked in a glass pipe that’s heated. Drugs like ketamine are smoked from a piece of foil, and cannabis is mixed with tobacco in a cigarette or joint.

The drug is in the fumes, which go into the lungs. The drug then crosses into blood vessels in the lungs and once in the bloodstream, gets taken to the brain. The hit comes in a few seconds and can be an even faster hit than what you get from injecting.

Smoking can damage your mouth through burns from hot pipes. It also harms your lungs. Smoking a drug with tobacco puts you at risk of smoking-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and breathing illnesses.

Safer smoking

If someone has a cold sore on their lip, sharing joints, pipes, bongs or cigarettes can spread the herpes virus. The same goes for syphilis if they have a chancre sore on their lips or in their mouth.

The main risk of infection from hepatitis C or HIV comes when pipes are shared to smoke crack. Infected blood from broken or bleeding lips and mouths can get on the pipe and be passed to someone else if they also have broken or bleeding lips.

When smoking from aluminium foil, the edges can cut through the skin leaving trace amounts of the virus that can then be passed on. Hot foil can also cause nasty burns.

  • Protect your lips by wrapping a rubber band around the end of the pipe, and avoid sharing pipes and aluminium foil.
  • Smoking from bongs filled with cold water makes smoking safer as it cools down the smoke and gets rid of some impurities.
  • Invest in a vapouriser – vapourising drugs at high temperatures is safer, as the vapour contains fewer impurities than smoke and is easier on your lungs.
  • Inhale slowly to shield your lungs from the hot smoke.
  • Use a shatterproof Pyrex pipe – other pipes can burn your skin and leech toxins.

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Published: 30/08/2018
Next review: 30/08/2021