This article takes a wry view of a DEA website that seems to encourage parents to be ever vigilant towards secret drug use by their offspring. That’s a holdover from the original War on Drugs, when Mom and Dad were advised to conduct regular searches and otherwise police the home. I recall one rather overenthusiastic expert suggesting parents nail their teen’s bedroom windows shut, to prevent them from sneaking out. Fortunately this drama didn’t last. After all, the parent-child relationship is supposed to be based on love and respect, not fear. And few adolescents come to love their parole officers.

Still, the DEA’s right that kids (like other drug users) can be remarkably creative and energetic when it comes to concealing drug use. They’re always coming up with new ways to hide the stash.

That’s actually more of an issue now than in the 80’s, because of the presence of super-powerful opioids like fentanyl or carfentanil, and the growing risk of unintended overdose. So it is a good idea for parents to be aware of and alert to the signs of a developing problem, and what might be done to interrupt it.

Some things I learned from kids who use drugs:

  • The household is full of substances that can produce a high, if you’re desperate enough. Freon gas siphoned from an air conditioner. That can of whipped cream topping sitting in the fridge– think nitrous oxide. And of course, anything with actual opiates in it, such as codeine cough syrup, a favorite of some rappers.
  • What appears to be tobacco or even marijuana often isn’t. Instead, it’s plant material that’s been treated with chemicals. Could be almost anything psychoactive, from PCP or ketamine to LSD or DMT. No doubt there are more alphabet drugs already in the pipeline, courtesy of some outlaw chem student in the Far East.
  • Then there are the ‘lookalikes’, chemically treated with intoxicants and packaged as bath salts or incense or various herbal supplements.
  • The soles of modern sneakers are ideal for concealing drugs. Simply slit lengthwise with razor or extra-sharp blade, then insert small bag of smack or coke, for later access. The costliest kicks have the thickest soles, I’m told.
  • It’s easy enough to slip pills in with ordinary household medications. Prince mixed his in with the aspirin. Capsules are even better. Plus, it’s no challenge to treat gummy candy with chemical enhancers. And Pez dispensers– do I really need to explain?

Maybe I’m the only one who sees irony in the fact that we’re struggling to fight our way out of the opioid epidemic, but we’re simultaneously encouraging people to use cannabis. Sometimes it reminds me of the late 90’s, when the public turned to Oxycontin and Vicodin because experts assured them that these exciting new medications were safe and effective, with only minimal risk for abuse or addiction…