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Child Threat - DrugsMore Tips

Pins and Gear (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): With numerous accounts of professional athletes using steroids in the news, it shouldn't be a surprise to parents that the use of performance enhancing drugs is increasing in alarming numbers among high school and college students. One website that we are aware of has over 60,000 members online who communicate in its forum, selling lists of offshore suppliers who will ship to any destination in the world (be on the lookout for UPS packages delivered to your home, prepaid credit cards, etc.), discuss "cycles" (the use or "stacking" of multiple oral and injectible steroids over a period of weeks or months), provide profiles of every major steroid available today, and post pictures where members advise each other whether a steroid they purchased is real or not. By perusing this board, learning the lingo is fairly easy. "Pins" refers to the hypodermic needles used to inject drugs. "Gear" is commonly used to describe both steroids and the paraphernalia associated with them. "Test," "Winny," "Deca," "Tren," "Sus," "Fina," "Dbol," "Prop," and "Mast," are all street names used to describe popular pharmaceutical steroids.


Getting Baked (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): As if all the street drugs available today weren't enough, add vanilla extract (yes, the type used for baking) to the long list of common household items such as DM cough syrup, gasoline, magic markers, glue, correction fluid, ground-up caffeine pills, etc., abused by teens. It's high alcohol content has become a favorite among kids, especially when used in combination with other drugs. If you find any of these items are missing, or come across them in your child's room or in the garbage, don't overlook them.


Video Head & Leather Cleaners (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): Dangerous inhalants originally marketed as room deodorizers and liquid incense 25 years ago under the names Bolt, Locker Room, Rush, etc., are now being sold to teens as "video head cleaner," "leather cleaner" and "aromatherapy." They contain isobutyl or butyl nitrite and serve one purpose - to fry kids brains. Those who purchase them know exactly what they are used for, despite the new advertising scheme. Most of these products are sold in small brown bottles with descriptive labels and are easy to recognize.


Recognizing Methamphetamine Use (Detective Greg Ferency, Terre Haute Police Dept., Terre Haute, IN): When a drug like methamphetamine ("meth") hits an area, all rules are thrown out the window. Meth use and abuse will ultimately result in delinquent and criminal behavior, often in the form of secondary crimes to fuel the use/addiction. Families are usually the first victims out of convenience, but after awhile, general crime (including violent offenses) are the end result. As a narcotics detective I regularly receive calls from frantic parents who think their kids are under the control of meth. I ask them what they are seeing (and hearing) to make them believe that. They give me a quick run down of their observations and in less than a minute I can tell them "yes, it sounds like meth has entered your world." Had they taken the time to learn a few simple signs of meth use/abuse early on, they might have been able to intervene before their child's addiction kicked in. It is important to realize that unlike the paraphernalia associated with "club drugs" such as ecstasy, which are related to maximizing the high itself, meth paraphernalia is associated with the ingestion of the drug. Here are a few examples of the same: Meth is sold and transported in corner cut plastic bags. This is exactly what it sounds like, the corners cut off plastic sandwich bags. They are in the shape of a triangle. Don't believe the excuse that they are for a stamp collection. Garbage bag twist ties cut in halves or thirds are used to contain, open and close the corner cut plastic bags. Hollowed out ink pens and straws cut in half or thirds are used for snorting or smoking meth. Strips of aluminum foil (may be creased down the middle) are used to smoke meth. The drug is placed in the crease and a heating source (flame) placed under the foil. When the meth evaporates, it is sucked into the lungs with the hollowed out pen or straw. You find these strips of foil rolled into balls. Hollow glass tubes, chipped or melted on one end (may have bulb at the end) are used for smoking meth. Meth is placed at one end of the tube and smoked through the other. Used glass tubes will have burn residue at one end. Don't believe that it is being used to smoke marijuana. Light bulbs with internal pieces taken out are also modified for this purpose. It will have a chipped or melted hole on top of the bulb. When used, burn residue will be obvious. Syringes are indicative of hard-core meth use. Medical science knows this is the most proficient way to get a drug in the body and so do users. Spoons are used to melt meth in water prior to injection. Again, look for burn residue. Small pieces of cotton or cigarette filters are used to filter the meth/water solution for injection. Meth melts at a fairly low temperature and most of the cutting agents remain solid. This helps ensure the user is getting more meth than "cut." Torch lighters are popular as a heating source to smoke and inject meth. They work a little better than standard lighters. These are just some of the paraphernalia associated with methamphetamine use/abuse, but not all. Parents must learn to recognize them. Many of the parents that I speak to tell me they saw these items long before they knew their child had a problem. But they did not know what they were until I told them. Had they known, they may have been able to intervene before they were forced to make contact with me, which was usually the result of a negative incident that happened to their child either as a suspect or victim of a crime. PDP note: There is little to add to this excellent tip. Here is a seasoned narcotics detective, a meth expert, who has insight few outside the world of addiction know. Parents need to learn it too, to protect their kids from harm.


"Intervention" on A&E (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): Anyone who has ever attended one of our dozens of parent meetings throughout Westchester County knows that we strive to refrain from any form of commercialism. That's why we don't have ads on this website, and instead dip into our own pockets to pay for brochures, hosting, etc. We believe this keeps our efforts legitimate and credible. Not surprisingly, Prevent Delinquency Project materials have been used in a number of other locations, including by police departments in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and a Passages parenting program in Chicago, Illinois. In keeping with this philosophy, we are also hesitant to endorse television programming and the like. However, one program in particular, "Intervention" on A&E, deserves recognition. Each episode follows the life of an addict before, during and after an intervention by trained specialists. Although the subjects are all adults, this is a great learning tool for parents. By watching this show, you will observe addicts craving for, using, experiencing and coming down off of drugs. This should not only assist you in identifying paraphernalia and the drugs themselves, but also how they are prepared and used. In addition, you will see the physical signs of addiction, and irrational behavior addicts exhibit with their family and friends. Thus, we highly recommend watching it.


Whippets (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): Have you ever noticed the way teens at concerts, raves and parties have a supply of inflated balloons around? If they don't float beware. That's not always helium folks. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is gaining popularity with older kids these days. Tanks of the stuff, the same as found in your dentist's office, can be observed being dispensed from the back of cars and vans in parking lots outside of concert arenas. Dealers sell balloons filled with it to kids for a few dollars a piece. The gas is also common in other forms in your home. Chargers, resembling CO2 cartridges that power BB guns, and sold for those with home whipped cream machines, are used for the same purpose. "Head shops" sell devices in which teens place a cartridge inside it, and then empty the gas into a balloon from which they inhale. In addition, nitrous oxide is the propellant found in popular cans of instant whipped cream you buy at the supermarket. If the can in your refrigerator runs out of propellant before the contents do, or mysteriously makes its way into your child's room once empty, that should raise an eyebrow...


A Rose By Any Other Name (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): Here's a new trend among street addicts gaining popularity in New York and spreading rapidly across the country... Have you ever gone into a convenience store and noticed those small roses encased in glass tubes sold from counter displays for a few dollars each? Crack cocaine users remove the rose from the tube and use it to smoke their drug of choice when traditional glass pipes are unavailable. Not surprisingly, addicts can be very resourceful in modifying common everyday items into paraphernalia. Other examples include marijuana pipes made out of potatoes and soda bottle tops with the plastic inserts removed which are used to heat up heroin with water prior to injecting it. As always, parents need to be on the lookout for any unusual glass tubes, bottle caps, tinfoil sheets, etc., containing residue or burn marks.


Family & Friends - The Drug Connection (Detective Greg Ferency, Terre Haute Police Dept., Terre Haute, IN): Having worked narcotics enforcement for many years, one thing has become painfully obvious to me. A lot of parents mistakenly think children are being introduced to drugs like methamphetamine ("meth") by street corner dealers. While it is always a possibility, and a concern, from what I have assessed, it is not the norm. Countless numbers of people arrested for drug related crimes that I have had the opportunity to interview have stated they were first exposed to drugs by a friend, schoolmate or a family member. In short, someone they trusted. Many of them have also advised that they didn't think they would become addicted to drugs such as meth, even though a majority of the group (approx. 80%) stated they knew they would take it again after their first experimentation. What users have also shared with me, is that they only heard initially what was good about meth (and other drugs) and not what was bad. That is common among those in the drug culture. Dealers and other substance abusers intentionally omit this information when sharing what they know. Most addicts have told me that they were aware street drugs were against the law when they started using them, but never realized the absolute chaos addiction would bring into their lives, including crimes resulting in arrest, and physical and mental side effects. So what does it all mean? Don't lock your kids in their rooms and never let them out. Instead, educate and inform your children about drugs and the drug culture, including the consequences of engaging in it. PDP note: We agree with the Detective... Education is the key to preventing substance abuse. And in our opinion, the best place to start teaching kids about drugs is in the home. If you bond with your children, by loving and supporting them, and educate them about the dangers they may face (after you learn yourself), they will find the strength within themselves, and in you, to resist the negative influence of peers. Often, it does come down to whom they trust more, you, or a friend at school. Also, be aware, family relationships aren't always healthy ones. Many children are introduced to substance abuse by an older brother or sister. That is especially true with gateway drugs such as marijuana.


Xanax (Brenda Giancaspro, MSEd., Port Chester, NY): It is important for parents to realize that Xanax is becoming the drug of choice for many children. It is easy to obtain, because it is widely prescribed for anxiety, and often thought of as a safer alternative to street drugs such as crack or heroin. PDP note: Ease of access certainly has a lot to due with children abusing prescription drugs. In addition, many kids mistakenly perceive drugs such as Xanax as safe to abuse by virtue of the fact that they are manufactured and sold legally, prescribed to children and adults that they know, and have reliable dosing. This gives them a false sense of security. Kids also think they can predict and control the "high" associated with such abuse, and that prescription drugs are not addictive. Nothing could be farther from the truth.


Pens, Magic Markers & Correction Fluid (Brenda Giancaspro, M.Ed., Port Chester, NY): If your child has unusual marks caused by these items around his or her nose, lips, other areas of the face, or fingers, it may be an indication that he or she is abusing inhalants. Other things to look out for include clothing with strong odors, particularly around the sleeves and collars, chemical-soaked rags, plastic bags that smell like glue, a lot of empty butane lighters, used spray cans, etc., in your child's room, and missing household cleaners. Inhalant abuse is especially popular with younger children in the elementary and middle schools. PDP note: "Huffing" is extremely dangerous. Parents often miss the warning signs, because the substances abused and paraphernalia associated with the same are found in most homes. However, make no mistake, they are every bit as deadly as street drugs.


Stealth Pipes (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): Most parents are able to recognize traditional pipes used for smoking marijuana. However, few know that many "smoking accessories" manufactured and sold today to kids are covert by design. We have come across "pot" pipes that are made to look like common everyday items, including magic markers, car cigarette lighters, pens, lipstick, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, key chain flashlights, cube toys, and even batteries. When in doubt, examine the suspected item closely. It won't work the same as its legitimate counterpart. Moreover, the odor of marijuana, burn marks and residue will quickly give it away.


Nosebleeds (Ryan McAndrews, Butler, PA): One thing that might seem obvious in hindsight, is if a child is having abnormally frequent nosebleeds (particularly if a rash of them starts suddenly) that could be a sign that they are "snorting" cocaine, meth, ground up Ritalin or diet pills, or any other number of substances. PDP note: Parents need to keep in mind, most hard core addicts don't start out sticking a needle ("works," "pins," or "gear") in their arm. The majority of them (who come from all walks of life) begin as recreational users, ingesting, sniffing or smoking their drug(s) of choice. Many who are heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine users will turn to "mainlining" after they have eroded their nasal passages away, suffer a collapsed septum, or decide they want more "bang for the buck," when they develop a tolerance for the drug and their habit becomes expensive. Paraphernalia associated with "snorting" include cut straws, rolled up currency, mirrors, razor blades and playing cards (used to prepare lines). If they start to sell drugs ("deal," "hustle," or "get paid"), as so many do to support their own habit, you may also find scales, grinders, screens, cutting agents such as talcum powder, corn starch, or vitamin C powder, and packaging like glassine envelopes, plastic baggies, and paper or tinfoil packets (square in shape folded into a rectangle where one end tucks inside to keep it closed).  


Deck of Cards or "Deck" of Heroin (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): Here's a hide-away we just learned about that is being sold on the Internet... Made from a real deck of cards, when the box is opened, it appears to be full of cards. In actually, inside is a hollow compartment. It is weighted so that when loaded, it will feel right to anyone who picks it up. However, the fake deck top is removable revealing the contents. The compartment is large enough to hold illicit substances. If your child has one of these in his/her room or on their person, it is easy to miss, unless you know the trick. And speaking of "decks," that's what small glassine (like wax paper) envelopes of heroin are often called on the street. The same type of packaging is sometimes used for cocaine. They are small enough to be secreted just about anywhere, including in a normal deck of cards, a book, tissue dispenser, the back of a pack of candy, a cigarette box, etc. Learn the lingo and paraphernalia associated with substance abuse.


Watch the Wash (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): To all those mothers who continue to do their teenager's laundry (you know who you are), this is something to look out for. Boxer underwear is being sold with a 3" x 3" pocket sewn into the front of them. Marketed as a way to keep a condom at hand, they have also become popular with drug users. Addicts believe that if they hide their stash in the underwear pocket, it may be missed if the wearer is subjected to a "stop and frisk," where they are patted down and/or have their outer clothing pockets turned inside-out by police. If you find this underwear in your child's wash, it may be an indication that he/she is either sexually active and/or engaging in substance abuse.


"...back in an hour." (Deputy Sheriff, Upstate, NY): Parents are happy to hear when their child tells them he/she is only going out with friends for an hour. And they think nothing of it when their child returns home and immediately heads to his/her room because they are "tired." However, this could be a sign of substance abuse. PDP note: We can't stress enough that parents have a responsibility to know where their children are at all times, who they are with, and what they are up to. Something as seemingly benign as a child leaving home for an hour at night to "pick up a homework assignment from a friend" should not be ignored, especially if it happens often, their behavior is irregular or secretive, or other "red flags" exist. Yes, your child may just be picking up a homework assignment. Or in actuality, going out to "get high" or purchase drugs from a dealer. In some communities, it is so common children have adopted their own language to describe such activities. For example, when kids in wealthy Westchester County towns and villages skip classes at school or leave home in the middle of the night to do a "B run" with their friends, it means taking a quick 20 minute drive to the Bronx, to purchase the narcotics of their choice.


Ecstasy Tool-Kit (Prevent Delinquency Project, White Plains, NY): With the alarming rate of ecstasy use among children, it is important that parents recognize the signs of the same. One way to do so, is by learning the paraphernalia associated with the drug. Baby pacifiers and lollipops are commonly used to combat the teeth grinding caused by ecstasy. Those on ecstasy also drink a lot of water to overcome dehydration. In addition, many heighten their experiences on the drug with Vicks inhalers in painter's masks, and by playing with glow sticks, particularly while attending raves and other gatherings.


Household Drugs (Chris, Pharmacist, Connecticut): Secure and account for all prescription and over-the-counter medications in your household. Kids often steal prescribed drugs from family members. I know of one instance for example where irate parents returned to a pharmacy and yelled at employees because they believed an elderly member of the family had been dispensed the wrong medication. It turned out, after further investigation, their daughter confessed to taking the medication and replacing it with vitamins. PDP note: That's an excellent point. Remember when you had a root-canal and the dentist prescribed Tylenol with Codeine? How many did you take? How many do you have left? Would you know if one or more were missing? Children will steal them for their own use, to sell to their friends, or trade for street drugs. Sometimes, children will sell and trade their own medications, such as Ritalin, in school. Over-the-counter medications are widely abused by kids too, and many are precursors to manufacture other drugs. As a side note, if you find a drug in your home and don't know what it is, contact your local pharmacist...


Date Rape Drugs (Chris, Pharmacist, Connecticut): Parents need to inform their kids about date rape drugs. PDP note: We agree... Typically found at raves, dance clubs, college gatherings and high school parties, Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid ("GHB"), Rohypnol and Ketamine, are often voluntarily taken by teens to "get high." Aside from being extremely dangerous and unpredictable, resulting in thousands of emergency room visits across the country, these drugs also share one additional distinction, that is, their role as date rape drugs. Rohypnol is often shipped from pharmaceutical operators located outside the United States, Ketamine is typically stolen from veterinary clinics, and GHB is manufactured in clandestine labs using solvents and cleaners. To understand the magnitude of the problem, one need only look at Woodstock '99. Over one hundred rapes were reported at the event (and experts believe there were up to five hundred more cases that went unreported), largely attributed to GHB. Colorless, odorless, and virtually tasteless, it can easily be slipped into a beverage and ingested, without the victim knowing, until it is too late. Moreover, because of the amnesia it produces, victims are often haunted by memories of a sexual assault for years after the attack, but are unable to identify those involved. Perpetrators know this, and in recent years have become more brazen. Cases involving couples and even small groups of people being drugged have occurred. There is no longer safety in numbers... Tell your children to only drink out of cans and bottles they open themselves and have constant control over. If they put it down and walk away, advise them not to drink it, but rather open a new one. And never share beverages or food with others...


Drug Trade Names (Art Guzman, Miami, FL): A recent newspaper article indicated dealers are giving their drugs names (aside from street terms). PDP note: Branding of street drugs is nothing new, but parents certainly should be aware of it. Just like multimillion dollar companies that seek to promote trademarks for what they sell to establish goodwill and brand loyalty, major drug operations use brand names as indicators of source and quality in an effort to make addicts return customers. For example, going back 15 or 20 years, narcotics were openly sold on street corners, in alleyways, and in courtyards taken over and controlled by drug dealing gangs in the Bronx under the trade names "Dr. Wood," "Dr. Detroit," "Pink Panther," "Rated X," "New Improved," "Bomber Z," "Checkmate," "True Value," "Blue Thunder," "Beef," "Tuna," "Red Moon," etc. Notice that many of these street brands copy legitimate marks or mimic innocuous things (to evade law enforcement radar). It would almost seem humorous, if we didn't know about all the lives that were/are destroyed as a result of this poison. The Prevent Delinquency Project intentionally chose these street brands because they are long gone through successful police efforts (thank you NYPD Bronx Narcotics Task Force) and we aren't going to help promote any that exist today. Still, these examples give parents an idea of what to look out for. If you hear your child talking about similar things, beware. Also, if you find any small paper, plastic or glassine (like wax paper - used for packaging heroin and cocaine) envelopes or remnants of the same, without or without brands stamped on them, you need to act immediately in getting your child some help.


Window Fans (Anthony D., Queens, NY): If you see a window fan in backwards, someone has been smoking. PDP note: Kids will put the window fan in backwards to blow marijuana and other smoke out of the room. They will also blow smoke into intake vents on furnaces in the basement. Also, children will sometimes burn incense or use strong room/air deodorizers to cover up the smell of illicit substances. Ask yourself if your child really needs to use Lysol that often, or hospital grade disinfectant, or all those plug-in air fresheners... Even the best of these tricks won't work if parents are observant and aware. Children shouldn't be smoking or burning anything in the house.


Screens (Ian Losby, Anchorage, Alaska): Keep an eye on window screens and those in sink faucets, at home and in public places. Kids use them to make homemade pipes. PDP note: We never thought of that. An excellent "red flag" that might indicate your child is involved in substance abuse. Traditional pipe screens, pipes and other drug-related paraphernalia are becoming harder to find locally, as law enforcement targets "head shops." Those children who don't order such items on the Internet, either out of fear of being ripped off or caught, are fabricating their own. Screens are also used in the processing and packaging of marijuana and cocaine, and the making of hashish.


Hollow Books (George Thompson, Los Angeles, CA): Look inside books for marijuana, etc. PDP note: Hollow books have been around a long time, as have soda cans, deodorant, peanut butter, AJAX, etc., containers with secret compartments and/or false bottoms. They were once sold by the national Service Merchandise chain and advertised as "diversion safes." Lately, we have seen stash water bottles sold on the Internet. They have hidden compartments behind the label and either pull or twist apart, depending upon the model. They are often overlooked by parents because the top and bottom sections of the bottle have water in them.

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