Approximately 70 percent of all students attending high school have used alcohol by the time they are a senior. Roughly fifty percent have used an illegal drug. Over 20 percent have used a prescription drug for no medical reason. Identifying drug use in teenagers is often difficult. Can you smell drugs? If so, what do the different drugs smell like? What are the signs I should be looking for? Addiction can be mistaken for the uncommunicative and surly stage associated with teenagers. If you suspect drug use, look for warning signs including:
• Poor school performance
• Losing interest in activities
• Friendship changes
• Mood swings
Remember all of the above issues can be caused by hormones or something unrelated to drugs. One of the best methods to determine if your teenager is using drugs is your sense of smell. The odor of specific drugs is very distinctive. Learning how to identify these smells can help you catch your teenager and provide them with the help they need. The odors are not only found behind closed doors but often linger on clothing, blankets, backpacks, rugs and curtains.
How Do Methamphetamines Smell?
Smoking meth releases a strong odor similar to cleaning products or chemicals. Some people compare the smell to burnt plastic. If your teenager is consuming a lot of meth, the smell of their sweat may begin to smell like ammonia. Meth or methamphetamine is a highly addictive and powerful drug with devastating health effects. Smoking meth just once can cause death. Even small amounts can result in harmful health effects including:
• Accelerated breathing
• Loss of appetite
• Increase in blood pressure
• Irregular or rapid heartbeat
• Increase in body temperature
• Disturbed sleeping patterns
• Violent, erratic, irritable, bizarre or aggressive behavior
Meth Impact on Health
Using meth on a chronic basis often leads to a long-term and damaging impact on health even if the person stops taking methamphetamines. This includes:
• Permanent damage to the brain and heart
• High blood pressure often resulting in strokes, heart attacks and death
• Severe dental issues referred to as meth mouth
• Damage to the lungs, kidneys and liver
• Intense itching resulting in sores on the skin from scratching
• Insomnia, confusion and anxiety
• Psychotic symptoms including violent behavior, delusions, mood disturbances, hallucinations and paranoia continuing for months or even years
How Does Heroin Smell?
If your teenager’s room smells like it has been doused with vinegar, there is a good chance they have been smoking heroin. The smell is dependant on the type of heroin and it can be easy or difficult to detect. The odor will not linger for long. Chronic use of heroin can result in numerous health issues including:
• Collapsed veins
• Heart infections
• Kidney disease
• White matter deterioration within the brain
• Infertility for women
• Liver disease
• Skin infections
• Chronic constipation
• Loss of skills for controlling stress
• Pulmonary infections
• Decreased sexual drive
Common Side Effects of Heroin Use
The most common side effects of heroin use are often temporary. This does not mean there is not a remaining health risk. The most common short-term effects of heroin use include:
• Unnatural relaxation
• Slow heart rate and slow breathing
• Trance-like state lasting between four and six hours
• A euphoric rush lasting between three and five hours
• Small pupils
• Loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea
• Heavy sensation in the limbs
• Flushed and warm skin
• Watery eyes and a runny nose
• Severe itching
• Muddled thinking
If your teenager continues using heroin, the inevitable result is a physical dependence on the drug. It makes no difference if the drug is illegal or lawful, the natural response of the body to an ongoing presence of any drug is physical dependence. The two main effects of physical dependence are withdrawal and tolerance. The body will adapt to heroin to survive. This concept can be undermined by tolerance. As time passes, your teenager will require larger amounts of the drug for the same effect.
Tolerance to Heroin
As your teenager increases their heroin dosage, the risk to their health also increases. Once their body has become used to the drug, decreasing the dosage or no longer using heroin will result in withdrawal symptoms. If enough time passes, your child will become physically dependent on heroin. The most common withdrawal symptoms include:
• Severe cravings for heroin
• Muscle pain
What Does Marijuana Smell Like?
Describing the smell of marijuana is difficult. Despite this, you will know when you smell it. The odor is dependent on the specific strain of marijuana. Before it is smoked, the most common smells are herbal, citrus and pine. Once marijuana has been smoked, the smell is similar to skunk and herbs. According to research, marijuana can negatively impact several systems in the body. The effects of using marijuana include:
Neurological Issues With Marijuana Use
The brain contains THC receptors overstimulated by smoking marijuana. The result can be impaired muscle movement, slow or impaired thought processes, changed perceptions of time and changes in the perception and sensations of the environment. In some cases, using marijuana can result in psychiatric issues or psychosis including losing touch with reality and having delusions including strong but incorrect beliefs.
Cardiac Issues From Marijuana
Blood clotting is intensified by marijuana. This can result in an increased risk of arrhythmias and heart attacks.
Marijuana Pregnancy Risks
Marijuana can have a negative effect on pregnancy. Using marijuana while pregnant can negatively impact the newborn including physical issues such as low birth weight. Cognitive issues can also develop including attention and learning deficits as the child grows.
Respiratory Issues With Marijuana
Smoking marijuana regardless of the form can negatively impact respiratory system health including marijuana smoke. According to research, many of the toxins found in tobacco smoke are also in marijuana smoke. Some of these toxins can cause cancer. Research has established a connection between smoking marijuana and a higher risk of respiratory infections including phlegm production, increased coughing and bronchitis.
Smoking marijuana can result in an addiction. The estimate is 10 percent of all marijuana users will become addicted. This percentage increases to 16.5 if your teenager started smoking marijuana as an adolescent.
What do Opiate Pills Smell Like?
If your teenager is smoking opiate pills such as OxyContin or Percocet, you will notice a sweet smell similar to burnt marshmallows and sugar. The reason opiate pain medications are closely monitored by physicians is that they often cause side effects including:
• Muscle pain
• Moods change quickly
• Being overly energetic
• Loss of interest in activities
• Becoming cranky or nervous
• Eating less or more than usual
• Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea
• Financial hardship
• Feeling very sad and tired
• Missing important events or appointments
• Poor hygiene
• Trouble with the law
Many users develop a major addiction to opiate pills. If your teenager is addicted, they will compulsively look for opiates. The resulting behavior often leads to negative consequences for relationships with family and friends. Your teenager might steal someone’s pills or purchase them from a drug dealer on the street. This is dangerous because lethal amounts of fentanyl are often used to lace opiates.
What Does PCP Smell Like?
If your teenager is smoking PCP, the odor is similar to a permanent marker. The smell of crack cocaine is very similar to meth. The odor is a combination of chemicals and burning plastic. If your teenager is injecting or smoking PCP, they will feel the effects sooner. PCP has psychological effects including:
• Changing body awareness
• Loss of concentration
• Sense of detachment
• Coordination loss
• Memory loss
• Distorted sensory perceptions
• Bizarre behavior
Addiction Treatment in Orange County, CA
Counting on the smell of the drugs is not a perfect solution. Your teenager is smart and might try to hide the smell by using air fresheners or scented dryer sheets. One of your best options after smell is looking for the symptoms of the drug. If you feel you or a loved one are suffering with drug or alcohol addiction, learn more about our treatment options in Orange County today.