Identifying Drug Paraphernalia
For teens, peer pressure plays a pivotal role in life. Teens want to do what their friends do, and be accepted by as many people as possible, and they might make disastrous decisions as a result.
For example, many teens begin using drugs and alcohol simply because their friends do so. According to a study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, having friends who used marijuana was closely associated with teen use of marijuana. Having friends who used drugs other than marijuana was associated with using drugs other than marijuana. Teens tend to do what their friends are doing.
Parents may try to thwart drug use in their teens by looking over their friends closely, trying to see if these teens look like they might be users of drugs and alcohol. Examining all of the teen’s friends can be exhausting, however, and the teen might still have other friends at school or at parties that the parents might never meet. For these reasons, it might be best for parents to know what drug paraphernalia looks like, and then armed with this information, they can look for drug use in their own children. This may be a quick and efficient way to determine if the teen is using drugs now, or has used drugs in the recent past. See Related: How to Identifying Drugs.
Teens who begin to collect or display these alcohol-related items might need to have a firm talk with parents about their alcohol use.
For teens, water bottles and thermoses are the preferred way to carry alcohol from place to place. Rather than using translucent glasses or small flasks that seem to scream out that alcohol is being consumed, water bottles and thermoses are much more discreet, allowing the teen to feel more comfortable drinking in the open. A quick sniff test or taste test should help parents to detect alcohol.
Teens who take binge drinking seriously may have modified funnels they can use to “pound” beer or other forms of alcohol. Typically, these apparatuses contain a funnel attached to a long tube with a cap on the end. This equipment might contain traces of alcohol, as they can be hard to clean completely. Teens with this equipment should be talked to immediately.
Marijuana can be placed into baked goods or brewed into tea, but teens might prefer to smoke the drug so they can do so without entering the family kitchen and drawing suspicion. Teens who smoke marijuana in cigarette form might require tobacco papers, and they might leave behind tiny flecks of green or brown marijuana when they roll up their cigarettes for smoking. Teens might also use tiny pipes to smoke marijuana. These pipes are often made of glass, and they can be colorful and quite beautiful, with swirling designs and curling shapes. Some manufacturers also develop marijuana pipes that look like common objects, including markers and lipstick containers. Parents might discover these items are truly pipes when teens become frantic to find them, and no substitute will do. If a teen is missing a treasured felt-tip pen, for example, and a replacement felt-tip pen is somehow inadequate, the original pen might conceal a pipe.
Some teens use bongs – a type of water pipe that has a small opening in the base for drugs and a water basin to purify and vaporize the smoke from the drugs. Users then inhale the vapors. Bongs can be incredibly expensive, so teens might take care to hide them in places where they will not be knocked over or broken. Closets, drawers, attics or basements are common places teens stash these valuable items.
The pro-marijuana movement often uses a marijuana leaf on items marketed to teens such as:
- Baseball hats
- Notebook folders
Teens might also draw marijuana leaves on their shoes, their clothing or in doodles on their homework. This should also be considered paraphernalia, and should prompt a discussion.
Salvia and Spice Gear
In addition, these drugs are often sold in tiny doses in colorful wrappers. These wrappers might keep the drugs preserved, but they must also be discarded when the drug use is finished. Teens who abuse these substances may be awash in papers after a binge, and these papers can be easily spotted by watchful parents. The papers may look as though they contained some sort of potpourri, and they may even be clearly marked as “not for human consumption.” At the same time, they may carry exotic names and colorful logos that would be appealing to young people.
According to Nemours, crack cocaine got its name from the cracking sound it makes when the tiny crystals of the drug are heated. While crack cocaine is usually much less expensive than powdered cocaine, users often have to do a significant amount of preparation work before they can use the drug, and this may cause them to collect a significant amount of paraphernalia. Teens often use spoons and a lighter to heat up crack cocaine, and they then inhale the drug using glass tubes. Since the glass is hot, teens may attach a rubber tube to the end of the glass, allowing them to avoid burning their lips or their fingers. Some teens use tiny, metal pipes to process crack cocaine. They heat the bottom of the pipe and then inhale the vapors from the other end. Teens who use crack cocaine might also create their own pipes out of discarded materials such as old pop cans or pieces of tinfoil.
Injectable Drug Equipment
- Crack cocaine
These drugs are often expensive, and teens might go to great lengths to keep them preserved and safe. They might store the drugs in locking boxes, steel lunchboxes or elaborate carved cylinders. While some teens display these storage boxes in the open, others hide them from view so they can keep their contents safe from prying parental eyes.
What to Do
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, drug paraphernalia is illegal in the United States. While teens might believe that they can own these items as long as they don’t also own drugs, if they are caught with these items, they can face criminal prosecution. It is a serious problem, and many teens are just not aware that this is the case.
Teens who deny drug use might have a harder time doing so when the proof of their abuse is looking right back at them, in the hands of their loving parents. Faced with this evidence, many teens will readily admit to their drug use, and they can begin to disclose how much they are using and how long the abuse has been continuing. These are important clues parents can use when deciding the next steps for care. See the Signs of Drug Abuse for more information on spotting a problem.
At Newport Academy, we know that finding paraphernalia is terrifying, and parents often have no idea what the evidence means and what should be done about it. We’d like to help. We specialize in treating adolescents who have issues with substance abuse, and teens who also have mental illness. Our programs can provide meaningful help and we have years of experience in providing that help.
Please contact us today to find out more.