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What does 'parachuting' a drug mean?
Q: A friend described 'parachuting' a drug, what does that mean?

A: Although in use since at least the late 1990s, there are several ways the term 'parachuting' is employed in the context of recreational drug use.

'Parachuting' or 'to parachute' usually describes placing a crushed or powdered dose of an orally active substance in the center of a small piece of soft paper (toilet paper, napkin, facial tissue, rolling paper, or thin paper towel). The paper is then pulled up around the dose and twisted together to form a tiny bag-like container. Any excess paper is ripped or cut off, and the ball is swallowed with liquid.

The primary purpose of paper-wad parachuting is to avoid having to taste the material (usually a bitter chemical powder). The secondary purpose, when using thin paper, is to increase speed of absorption of powdered tablets as compared to whole tablets. Sometimes parachuting is used with extended release tablets to have the full dose hit more quickly. As an improvised field technique, parachuting acts as a replacement for capsules when they aren't available; it is sometimes associated with experienced users who haven't planned ahead.

Paper-wad parachuting is not specific to any particular drug. People parachute anything from dried psilocybin-containing mushrooms or hashish, to any chemical that one would prefer not to taste. If it can be put in a capsule, it can be wrapped in toilet paper. The parachuting technique has been around for decades, maybe longer, but the term 'parachuting' appears to be more recent. Although the term was definitely in use in the 1990s, we have not found clear documented use prior to 2000. This paper-wad encapsulation technique is also known as "bombing", the paper-encapsulated drug called a "bomb".

The first use of the term 'parachuting' in Erowid's records is from a response to an MDMA usage survey Erowid conducted in April 2000; the first use in the Erowid Experience Vaults is from 2001 (Exp 7174); the first question Erowid was asked about this method was in 2002; and Erowid has included this swallowed paper-wad meaning of 'parachute' in our slang dictionary since March 2001.

There is a mention of 'parachuting' on Bluelight from September 2000: Parachuting Your Pill - New Method of Ingestion, which also provides the alternate term 'bombing' for the same technique.

Wikipedia added an entry for this meaning in June 2007.

Presumably the 'parachute' term comes from the way the soft paper looks, in combination with swallowing ('throwing down') the paper wad itself.

There are also methods of smoking cannabis and hash that are sometimes referred to as parachuting. They usually involve filling plastic bags with smoke. One method uses a plastic soda bottle with the bottom cut off and a plastic bag taped to enclose the end of the bottle. The bag is scrunched up into the plastic bottle to leave as little air space as possible (often by sucking it in). A bowl is inserted to fit tightly into the neck of the bottle (sometimes through a whole cut in the cap), and cannabis is lit in the bowl. Then the bag is pulled away from the bottle neck, drawing air through the burning cannabis, and filling the bag with smoke. The bowl is removed and the bag of cannabis smoke is inhaled at leisure. It provides a similar, homemade method of bag-smoking that some vaporizers such as The Volcano use.

Finally, there is a definition in the medical literature (Hendrickson et al. 2006) that describes a version of parachuting similar to the paper-wad method, yet using plastic instead, as a means of slowing absorption. The authors write 'A technique known as 'parachuting' involves wrapping ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA) or methamphetamine in a wrapper and letting the ingested wrapper unravel like a parachute in the gastrointestinal tract slowly, releasing the enveloped drug.'

While Hendrickson et al. were describing a case report of an unfortunate individual who used this plastic-wrap technique, it seems that the authors were unaware of the more common use of the term involving paper. The definition they state involves an oddly wrong description of a parachute unraveling 'slowly', given that parachutes are designed to open instantaneously.

That this dangerous and unusual definition of 'parachuting' has made it into the medical literature sometimes causes confusion that 'parachuting' normally refers to intentionally swallowing a plastic bag to slow the release of a drug. However, earlier mainstream medical authors have correctly defined the term, such as Burns and Atasoy in Medical-Legal Aspects of Abused Substances: Old & New—Licit & Illicit (2005).

  1. Hendrickson RG, Horowitz BZ, Norton RL, Notenboom H.
    ''Parachuting' meth: a novel delivery method for methamphetamine and delayed-onset toxicity from 'body stuffing'' Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2006;44(4):379-82.

  2. Burns M, Atasoy S. 'Medical-Legal Aspects of Abused Substances: Old & New—Licit & Illicit'. Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company, Inc. (July 26, 2005).

Asked By : anonymous
Answered By : earth
Edited By : jon, spoon
Published Date : 8 / 8 / 2012
Last Edited Date : 8 / 3 / 2012
Question ID : 3176

Categories: [ Basics ] [ Route of Administration ] [ Chemicals ] [ Slang ]

Ask Erowid v1.7 - Jul, 2005

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