I am starting this blog post with a word of warning. Caution. I hope not to frighten anyone, but you should watch out for this if you buy cans of whipping cream. Always check to make sure the can you select has not been tampered with. Confirm that there are no foreign objects at the end of the nozzle and that there is still pressurized air inside.
Some kids that engage in huffing may work in the grocery or convenience store. They may use some of these products, then put them back on the shelf so that the unsuspecting customers can still purchase the container, not realizing that all the air has been taken from the container.
Another common place some kids may hide drugs is in fake containers that look like cans of food items or shaving cream, but are actually “Diversion Safes.” These empty containers are sold to hold valuables and they have the appearance of a container of food, beverage, or shaving cream, but actually they have screw top lids and a hollow core where valuables can be hidden from thieves.
Some savvy kids store marijuana or drug paraphernalia in these items. Also check your kids books. Some of these aren’t books at all, but hollowed out shells in which to hide drugs and paraphernalia. Some may even look like Bibles. It is easy to be fooled.
Don’t overlook belts and shoelaces. Either of these may be used as a tourniquet for IV drug use. If you see bite marks or blood on them, question it. Are you satisfied with the answer? Of course finding needles and syringes in the bedroom of a child without a known medical reason to have such items is a huge red flag.
Know what those pretty blown-glass figurines are used for. Look for cored out pens with the ink cartridge removed, straws, squared plastic wrappers, and funny looking cigarettes. I hope your child is not smoking cigarettes, but if you do allow this, be sure to look at the unused cigarettes in their packets. Do these cigarettes look normal? Is there any residue on the unsmoked cigarettes? Does it look like it may have been dipped in something? Some kids will dip the tip of the cigarettes into another illicit drug, such as marijuana and smoke the residue in plain site, since it looks like they are smoking a regular cigarette. And be careful of the e-cigarettes. Many kids are putting marijuana into these e-cigarettes and cigarillos.
The biggest message to send to your child is that you love and care about them. You want them to be safe. You trust them. But you will verify what they say. If they say they are/were visiting a friend, let them know you will be calling the friend or parent to confirm. If you see odd or strange text messages on their phone, ask them about it and talk to them about anything that does not make sense to you, does not sit well with you, or appears out of place.
When something feels awkward or uncomfortable between you and your child, often this is an issue that needs discussion. Your child may even welcome an opportunity to share something that may be troubling them. Don’t be afraid to reach out and be vulnerable. Your child is likely feeling the same discomfort and wants to talk about it with a listening ear. Strive to be the first one they turn to.