How to Identify Different Types of Drugs

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Being able to identify drugs is a useful skill.
Being able to identify drugs is a useful skill. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

There are many practical reasons for wanting to be able to identify different types of drugs. Parents should be aware of what various drugs look like so they can identify risky behaviors in their children. Young adults should know what drugs look like so they can protect themselves. Law enforcement officers should be able to identify drugs in order to do their jobs effectively. Whatever your reason, drug identification isn't difficult if you know what to look for.

Heroin

Examine the consistency of the substance. Heroin is usually sold in powder form.

Identify the color of the substance. Heroin is generally white or light brown.

Consider the side-effects and whether or not the people around you are behaving in a way that would lead you to suspect that they are using heroin. Heroin is highly addictive; it enters the blood stream quickly after being smoked or inhaled. A period of euphoria is followed by a sleepy, twilight state.

Cocaine

Examine the consistency of the substance. Cocaine is usually distributed in a crystalline powder form.

Check the color of the substance. Cocaine is generally white or a light cream.

Look for other paraphernalia. Although cocaine can be inhaled or smoked, some cocaine users dissolve and then inject it. Look for needles.

Consider the side-effects and whether or not the people around you are behaving in a way that would lead you to suspect they are using. Cocaine causes euphoria, followed by a state of sluggishness or depression lasting several days. Cocaine is frequently used in conjunction with other drugs.

Marijuana

Examine the consistency of the substance. Marijuana is typically sold in a dry, shredded mix of seeds, buds, stems and leaves.

Note the color of the substance. Marijuana is usually a brownish-green shade.

Smell the substance. Marijuana has a very strong, identifiable scent. It is somewhat pungent and earthy.

Look for other paraphernalia. Although marijuana can be ingested, it is usually smoked. Look for cigarette papers, a pipe or bong.

Consider the side-effects and whether or not the people around you are behaving in a way that would lead you to suspect they are using marijuana. Marijuana induces a relaxed state that may lead the user to appear apathetic.

Methamphetamine

Examine the consistency of the substance. Regular methamphetamine is usually in pill or powder form. Crystal methamphetamine resembles glass or rock.

Examine the color of the substance. Regular methamphetamine is usually white. Crystal methamphetamine is a shiny blue-white.

Look for other paraphernalia. Methamphetamine is ingested, smoked or injected. Look for needles, pipes or cigarette papers.

Consider the side-effects and whether or not the people around you are behaving in a way that would lead you to suspect that they are using methamphetamine. The drug induces a state of heightened arousal and physical pleasure.

MDMA or Ecstasy

Examine the consistency of the substance. MDMA, also known as ecstasy, is usually sold in pill or tablet form.

Examine the color of the substance. Ecstasy tablets are usually brightly colored to look like candy.

Consider the side-effects and whether or not the people around you are behaving in a way that would lead you to suspect that they are using the drug. Ecstasy causes euphoria, sensitivity to touch and heightened sexuality.

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