Spotting Drug Paraphernalia

In addition to keeping an eye out for the physical and emotional signs of drug use, there are also some other things to look out for. Here’s a list from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

  • Plastic baggies or small paper bags, small glass vials, unknown pill bottles or unfamiliar makeup bags.
  • Rolling papers or pipes for marijuana, bongs, roach clips or e-cigarettes to use with marijuana concentrates.
  • Needles, tin foil, glass pipes, cut up drinking straws and spoons are all indicative of heroin use.
  • If you suspect cocaine use, look for pipes, mirrors and small spoons, straws or tubes, razor blades and lighters.
  • MDMA, Ecstasy or molly users may have glow sticks, surgical or dust masks, carry pacifiers and lollipops to prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching, and bags of candy to hide the pills.
  • Inhalant use usually comes with rags for sniffing and tubes of glue, balloons, nozzles, and bottles or aerosol cans with hardened glue, sprays, paint or other chemical odors.

Other paraphernalia to watch out for includes mouthwash, mints and sprays to hide odors; eye drops for bloodshot eyes; and frequent use of sunglasses. Children can find most of this stuff in your garage or as close as the local corner store.

Check your state and local laws and make sure to talk to children about the penalties for drug use and possession of paraphernalia.

If You Suspect Drug Use

Pick the right time to talk to your child about any suspected drug use. Voice your suspicions without making accusations, the DEA suggests, and be specific about things that make you concerned. Be prepared for strong reactions, but reinforce what you think about drug use and how much you love your child.

Also be prepared to call in the experts. Talk to the school counselor or nurse, or put your family doctor in the loop to get more help. Always get your child evaluated for a substance abuse disorder so they can get the right kind of help they need.

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