A Traditional Parent’s Guide to Modern Drug Paraphernalia

Last updated on April 10th, 2020

Do you think your child or teen might be involved with drugs? Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what substances they’re into based on their behaviors, so we compiled a list of “tools” to guide you through the physical evidence you may stumble upon.

Here’s What You’re Looking For

Here’s a look at seven pieces of common drug paraphernalia parents should look out for and the substances typically linked to each of them:

    • Aluminum Foil: Foil can be used to smoke and inhale several different drugs, like heroin or cocaine. However, it is especially common these days for smoking pills – specifically prescription painkillers. When smoked, the drug enters the bloodstream faster than if it’s swallowed, increasing the appeal.
    • Spoons, Bottle Caps, Belts, Bandanas: These items, in addition to syringes, are indicative of intravenous drug use. Virtually any drug can be shot up, with the exception of marijuana and certain pills, but opiates are by far the most common.
    • Baggies and Cellophane: If you frequently find small plastic bags in your teen’s pockets, purses, or backpacks, there’s a good chance those little vessels once contained drugs. Tiny plastic baggies or burnt cigarette wrappers are used to hold heroin, cocaine, marijuana, crack, ecstasy, or pills. If you notice a powder residue inside, the culprit is most likely heroin or cocaine.
    • Silk Roses, Glass Tubes, and Copper Scrubbers: You may or may not know that a “rose in a glass” is actually just a cleverly disguised crack pipe. Young teens may not know this, think they’re cute, and buy one for a dollar at the local gas station. However, if you find copper wool accompanying these items, there’s about a ninety-nine percent chance that your child is smoking crack cocaine.
    • Pipes and Bowls: It’s important to be able to distinguish which pipes are used for what drug. As we mentioned earlier, crack is typically smoked using a glass cylinder pipe. Marijuana is commonly smoked out of a colorful open bowl with an elongated mouthpiece. Methamphetamines are smoked out of a pipe that looks like a combination of the two; a glass cylinder with an enclosed bowl or sphere at the end.
    • “Fake-looking” Soda Cans, Aerosol Containers, Etc.: These containers are sold at head shops worldwide and are used for hiding drugs. Most of them are airtight, so they also conceal smells. Teens might keep containers in bags or bedrooms, but parents are most likely to find them in cars.
    • Straws, Pens, and Rolled Up Dollar Bills: Straws can be cut smaller and pens can be dismantled for “snorting” or “sniffing” certain drugs. Drugs that can be crushed up and snorted include cocaine, heroin, meth, ecstasy, and most pills.

Additional Reading:   7 Addiction Myths About Teens and Their Parents

Image Source: iStock

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