What are the Most-Used Drug Paraphernalia?
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What are the Most-Used Drug Paraphernalia?

There are many different substances to which individuals can become addicted. While alcohol and tobacco are legal in most places and marijuana has recently been legalized in several states, there are a vast number of illicit substances that many individuals use on a daily basis. Many of such substances require a variety of different tools or utensils in order for an individual to imbibe them and in some cases, the process can be pretty involved. However, knowing the variety of drug paraphernalia associated with certain substances can be beneficial because such items can alert parents or other concerned parties to the reality of an individual’s substance abuse and possible addiction. Therefore, the following are several of the most common drug paraphernalia.

drug stuff

Pipes & Bongs

One of the most readily identifiable paraphernalia, pipes are also one of the most common. Although the more old-fashioned tobacco smokers may use pipes for legitimate reasons, more often than not a pipe is used to smoke marijuana. Pipes can be made from glass, ceramic, metal, wood, bone, and a variety of other materials. While they can come in a wide variety of shapes, the most common form is a cigar-shaped and sized tube with a small hole on one end for inhaling and an open basin on the other for holding marijuana. However, there are also pipes that only have one opening with the other end being a closed sphere; these types of pipes are typically used for smoking crack cocaine or crystal methamphetamine.

Bongs are usually referred to as “water pipes” in retail stores and so-called tobacco shops. These have a more complex form than pipes, but they are actually fairly simple: Rather than breathing burning marijuana directly into the lungs, a user can draw the smoke into a large chamber by using the water as a buffer. The result is the user can take larger “hits” since smoke has been able to accumulate in the bong and cooled by the water. However, bongs are usually fairly large—although more portable sizes are available—and require water to use. For those trying to keep their substance abuse hidden, bongs can be difficult to keep discreet.


The presence of scales is often an indication than an individual is using drugs. At the very least, a scale would indicate that he or she is involved with drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin to an extent, whether using or selling. There are two types of scales commonly used among substance abusers: Digital and hand scales. The latter are often sold under the guise of being postal scales. The user simply attaches what he or she wants to way using the clamp and holds the device with the pendulum hanging freely from the hand; while holding the device steady, one can obtain a weight reading based on how much mass the object in the clamp has added to the device. On the other hand, digital scales can either be easier or harder to identify. While there are many that clearly look like scales, many newer and more discreet scales are made to look like smartphones or other devices, making them more difficult to detect.

Needles, Cotton Balls & Burnt Spoons

An individual who is addicted to heroin will usually administer the drug intravenously using a hypodermic needle or syringe, which is often colloquially called “shooting up” by individuals who use heroin. Such individuals will often also carry a spoon as this is needed to mix and prepare the solution for injection. In the spoon, the individual will mix heroin with water and warm it using a lighter, which will allow the heroin to dissolve into a solution. After dropping a small piece of cotton into the solution, the individual will use lay the tip of the syringe on the cotton and pull the draw back, which will filter the solution through the cotton while filling the syringe. As such, individuals who inject heroin will often have syringes, burnt spoons, and tiny little wads of cotton with or near them.


Since many drugs—like marijuana or those that come in powdered form like heroin and cocaine—need to be transported in some type of low-cost and easily concealable container, it’s most common for individuals to obtain illicit substances in plastic baggies. These can be sandwich-size baggies or ones sold at specialty and tobacco stores that come at very small sizes such as the size of a quarter coin. Alternately, it’s common for individuals to gather a substance into a corner of a baggie, tie a knot in the baggie to enclose the drug into a tight bundle, and then tear off the excess baggie in order to make it more discreet for transport. As such, the small corners of baggies are also common debris around substance abusers.

Burnt Foil

Certain substances that are smoked in “freebase” form require the individual to use aluminum foil. The foil serves as a way to hold the substance while the individual applies heat to it from the underside of the foil and inhales the fumes, occasionally with the aid of a straw to concentrate the suction. Crack cocaine and crystal methamphetamine are commonly smoked on foil, but it’s also possible to smoke heroin and even certain opiate painkillers using this freebase method.

Pens & Straws

In order to insufflate—or nasally snort—a drug, individuals need some sort of tube. The most common tubes used include straws that have been trimmed to a shorter length or tubes obtained by pulling apart ink pens. Tubes made from straws and pens often accompany other paraphernalia, especially those related to imbibing powdered drugs like mirrors and cards.

Mirrors & Credit Cards

For drugs that come in powdered form like cocaine and heroin, mirrors are considered a favorable surface for “chopping” the substance, which refers to using credit cards or driver’s licenses to render the powder finer by mashing it and breaking it down. Allegedly, using a mirror makes the substance more easy to see, which also ensures that none is lost.

Burnt Cans

When a pipe or bong is unavailable, individuals will often turn cans into makeshift, improvised pipes for smoking marijuana, crack cocaine, or crystal methamphetamine. The user will bend the can inward in either side, turn the can onto its side with one of the indents facing upward, and puncture the center of the upward-facing indentation. This allows the individual to place whatever substance he wants to smoke over the hole he puncture, light it with a lighter, and inhale through the opening on the end of the can from which the beverage had previously been drank.

Let the Palm Beach Institute Help You Find Sobriety — Call Us Now!

Clearly, there are many different substance that an individual can abuse. Moreover, each substance offers a number of dangerous, ranging from things like disorientation and confusion up to seizure and death. If you or someone you love would benefit from learning more about substance abuse and recovery, call the Palm Beach Institute today. A free consultation and assessment with one of our intake coordinators can put you or your loved one on the path to a happy, healthy, sober life. Don’t wait—call us now.

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