It can happen that even those individuals who are aware of the fact that their drug abuse and addiction problems are adversely affecting their health, relationships and life are yet unwilling or unable to admit to these problems or reach out to others for help. Perhaps it’s because they are embarrassed–even the strongest desire to abstain from further drug use rarely meets with lasting success, which can be difficult for the individual to comprehend.
Many people believe that it would be impossible for their loved one to effectively hide their drug abuse and addiction problems. Unfortunately, the truth is that an individual who is willing to hide these problems can actually become quite adept at doing so, and family members or friends are often very surprised to learn the full depth and extent of their loved one’s problems when finally they come to light. There is actually no reason to wait any length of time to get a drug abuser or addict help, and family members and friends who know what to look for may be able to assist their loved one sooner in the process.
Looking for Drug Paraphernalia
While it can be very difficult to ascertain whether changes in an individual’s moods, behavior or health are indicative of drug use, abuse or addiction, there is absolutely no mistaking the purpose of an individual’s drug paraphernalia. And while the type of specific drug paraphernalia an individual has depends largely on the drug substance they use and the method in which they use it, there are some basic items common to drug use, including:
1. Pipes, bowls and bongs. Pipes, bowls and bongs can be used to smoke marijuana, hash, cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin. The existence of these items, especially in quantity, is usually a clear sign that drug use is occurring. Furthermore, smoked drugs normally produce a very distinctive odor that cannot be associated with any other thing.
2. Scales. There are few reasons why an individual would choose to own and carry around a small portable scale if they are not involved in drug sales or use. Most street drugs are sold by weight, and buyers may even choose to use their own scales in order to ensure that they are getting what they are paying for. Some digital scales are quite compact–about the size of a cellphone–but again are not commonly carried around “just because”.
3. Baggies. Small baggies are the most common containers for illicit drug substances like marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, illegally-obtained and sold prescription painkillers and much more. These baggies are easy and inexpensive to buy, and the simple truth is that individuals don’t normally carry around a stock of them for reasons other than drug use.
4. Small pieces of charred foil. Some drug substances, like crack cocaine, are ingested when the user places it on a small piece of aluminum foil and then heats it from the underside, creating a smoke that the user inhales. In many cases, the same piece of foil will be used multiple times, and will therefore have a distinct charring on the underside.
5. Cards, straws and mirrors. Powdered drugs, like cocaine, require that the user have the proper tools necessary to ingest them, which normally includes credit cards, gift cards or other cards that can be used to chop drugs into fine powder, mirrors or other reflective surfaces that can be used to prepare the drug and straws that can be used to inhale the drug. If an individual is using these items for drug consumption, they will normally have a powdery residue on them.
6. Syringes and burnt spoons. Intravenous drug users often have syringes and spoons nearby at all times so that they can use drugs as often as desired. While the purpose of syringes is quite obvious, and these tools are not normally found lying about in drug-free homes, the presence of spoons can be more puzzling. Spoons are used to combine drugs with water in order to prepare them for injection, which means that the underside will be charred from whatever heat source is being used. Obviously this also means that the individual may have spare lighters around their space.
7. Belts and laces. Intravenous drug users normally create a tourniquet with a belt or lace in order to better inject these drugs into their veins and achieve a fast, intense high. As a result, drug users will often have these tools upon their person, but never use them for their originally intended purposes.
8. Glass tubes and steel wool. The most common tools used to smoke crack cocaine and crystal meth are small glass tubes and steel wool. The steel wool is used to help pack the drug into one end of the tube, while allowing the smoke from the burning drug to filter through to the user on the other end. A tube used for smoking drugs will usually have white residue on the inside and black char on one end.
One can argue that a sober individual may have one or even a couple of the above items in their possession for nothing but innocent purposes. However, a large combination of the above paraphernalia, especially when such paraphernalia appears to contain drug residue or odor and is accompanied by dramatic and sudden shifts in the individual’s general behavior, mood and health, is often a clear indication of drug use, abuse or addiction problems and should be immediately addressed head-on.