How to Identify Drug Paraphernalia

Last Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017

A critical part of understanding teen drug use is awareness about drug paraphernalia—the items kids use to hide or consume drugs. You may find these items in your child’s bedroom, car or backpack.

  • Plastic baggies or small paper bags
  • Cigarette packages
  • Electronic-cigarettes (also called E-cigarettes)
  • Small glass vials
  • Pill bottles
  • Candy or gum wrappers
  • Baseball cap/ski cap
  • Belt buckle
  • Felt tip marker and lipstick dispensers
  • Makeup bags

Drugs and Specific Paraphernalia

View the paraphernalia tab in our Identifying Drugs tool for images of all the paraphernalia listed below.

Marijuana

  • Rolling papers
  • Cigars used to fill with marijuana to make a blunt
  • Pipes (metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, ceramic)
  • Bongs (a filtration device to smoke marijuana)
  • Roach clips (a metal holder for a marijuana cigarette)
  • E-Cigarettes (to smoke marijuana concentrates)

 

Heroin

  • Needles
  • Tin foil
  • Pipes
  • Plastic pen case or cut up drinking straw
  • Small spoon

 

Cocaine

  • Pipes
  • Small mirrors, small spoons, short plastic straws, rolled-up paper tubes
  • Razor blades
  • Lighters

 

Ecstasy/MDMA/Molly

  • Glow sticks, surgical mask/dust mask
  • Pacifiers and lollipops (to prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching)
  • Bags of candy to hide pills

 

Inhalants

  • Rags for sniffing
  • Tubes of glue
  • Balloons
  • Nozzles
  • Bottles or aerosol cans with hardened glue, sprays, paint or chemical odors

 

Items used to cover up drug use.

  • Mouth wash, mints, and breathe sprays
  • Eye drops for bloodshot eyes
  • Sun glasses for red eyes, changes in pupil size, or eye movements

 

Items or associations that may indicate interest in illegal drugs or drug use.

  • Clothing, jewelry, tattoos, teen slang with drug culture messages.
  • Websites, music, or publications that glamorize drug use.

 

Where do kids buy paraphernalia?

Over the Internet, at tobacco shops, head shops, gift and novelty shops, gas stations, and convenience stores.    

Legal consequences

Federal law states it is illegal for any person

  1. To sell or offer for sale drug paraphernalia;
  2. To use the mail or any other facility of interstate commerce to transport drug paraphernalia; or
  3. Import or export drug paraphernalia.

See Drug Paraphernalia, 21 U.S.C. 863, Controlled Substance Act Offenses and Penalties, www.DEA.gov

For more information on possession of drug paraphernalia, check your state’s drug paraphernalia laws found in the state’s criminal code.

Learn to identify different types of drugs through their pictures and descriptions

Photos: Where can teens hide their drugs?

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