Identifying Smells That May Signify Substance Abuse

substance abuse smells

It is critically important for parents, guardians and teachers to watch for signs of substance abuse in teens. One of the best methods for doing this is none other than your nose. Drug usage often produces distinct scents, and those with an educated nose will be able to determine not only if a teen is using drugs, but what type as well.

Marijuana’s Scent

This is one of the most popular and easily acquired drugs. It has a very potent scent that can be difficult to describe in words, but once you’ve smelled it your nose will never forget. Various strains will produce distinct undertones, but the one thing that all marijuana has in common is a skunky smell which is akin to a burnt rope. It is one of the few drugs that can be smelled before it is lit up and even after it has burned.

Methamphetamine’s Scent

When someone smokes meth, it will produce a strong odor that many have reported as smelling like cleaning products or chemicals. Others have said that it resembles plastic which is being burned. If someone has used meth recently, their sweat will often give them the scent of ammonia.

Cocaine’s Scent

The smell produced when crack is smoked is anything but pleasant. It has been reported as smelling like a combination of burning plastic with chemicals. Do you remember the scent the last time you walked into a nail salon? This is what cocaine smells like.

Heroin’s Scent

Every variation of heroin will give off a distinctive, vinegary smell which is akin to acetic acid. However, heroin is produced in different geographical regions and as such its odor can vary significantly when compared to other drugs. The purest form of heroin, referred to as China White, will produce a smell which is the hardest to detect. Another problem with heroin is that the smoke it produces is rapidly dissipated, which means it will be hard for your nose to detect it.

PCP’s Scent

This is a potent hallucinogen which is distinct from other controlled substances. Smoking is the usual manner in which it is consumed, and when it burns, it will produce an odor that many have said smells like a permanent or magic marker.

Opioid’s Scent

Generally, opiates are the only pills that users will smoke, and certain types such as Oxycontin will produce a sweet smell when burned. Users have even reported that the smoke has the scent and taste of sugar or marshmallows.

Paying attention to unusual scents is important, but it is only the first step in detecting signs of substance abuse. Many users will try to conceal their activities, and will not open up about them willingly. However, in addition to specific odors, they will often display behaviors which are unusual or abnormal. Those who suddenly perform poorly at school or work, or who are associating with suspicious people that they have not introduced you to could be indications of trouble.