DRUGS: Sniffing Out the Problem

For parents, guardians or anyone else who is concerned that loved ones may be involved in illegal drugs, there may be a simple and cost-free way to monitor for drug use. Experts say by smelling the fingers and hair of an individual, you may be able to detect not only whether they are using but also what.

A typical scenario might play out something like this. A teenager goes out partying with friends and mom is suspicious. When he comes home, she smells his fingers and hair, and is able to gather information about exactly what he has been doing.

Perhaps the most common drug smell is marijuana, which smells green, earthy, spicy and possibly skunky. If pot is the concern, there is an inexpensive drug test available at the Dollar Store.

The synthetic drug known as K2 or Spice (which is sold locally even though it is illegal) has a very bad, very strong aroma of burnt chemicals.

Heroin smells like vinegar. Some dealers cut their dope with powdered sugar, in which case you would also have the smell of burnt sugar.

Cocaine also has a very distinctive smell – like ether – because of the way it is processed.

Methamphetamine has a noxious odor like cat urine or fingernail polish remover. (This is also what a meth lab smells like – and can be an indication that one is in your neighborhood.

Developing an awareness of these odors can provide valuable information for the concerned – and a non-confrontational manner of getting answers that can lead to action.

If further investigation is warranted, most drug stores have specific drug tests available over the counter.

About Callie J Lyons

Callie Lyons is an investigative journalist and author living in the Mid Ohio Valley. Her first book, Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8, is available at Amazon.com and in hundreds of libraries all over the world. Known as a "warrior for public health", Lyons' environmental investigations have been featured in documentaries, including Good Neighbors - Bad Blood and Toxic Soup, on Swedish National Television and in numbers of television, radio and print media interviews. Her work has appeared on Nova's Whiz Kids and in Mother Jones magazine. More recently, a national audience has come to know her award-winning investigative work through the Environmental Working Group and interviews with leading publications like the Huffington Post and The Intercept. Lyons' work was featured in the 2017 documentary Parched:Toxic Waters by National Geographic. The Short, Fantastic Life of a Saloon Girl is Lyons' first published work of historical fiction.
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