Tips for 2010 – Things I’ve Learned But Would Rather Not Know

Posted on January 9, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Parent of an Addict, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Things I’ve Learned But Would Rather Not Know:

•you need a land-line phone to receive collect calls from the jail.

• how to check the jail inmate population online.

• hydrocodone and oxycontin prescription pills are opiates and are often precursors to cocaine, crack, and heroin use. They can be used as a temporary ‘fix’ for coke/heroin addicts.

•Hardcore drug addicts will often enter detox and a 28 day drug treatment program just to heal up their injection site abscesses and lower their drug tolerance levels, resulting in their ability to better afford their drug habit when they get out.

•In order to conceal the phone number you’re calling from, dial *67 first.  This blocks the number you’re calling from.  Most drug  addicts know this trick.  If and when I feel compelled to call one of the phone #s at my daughter’s crack house, I will dial *67 first to protect my anonymity.

•Medical detox facilities and treatment centers will not accept patients who have any ‘open’ wounds due to the risk of MRSA.  MRSA infection is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria — often called “staph.” MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It’s a strain of staph that’s resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it and can be fatal.

•before drug addicts can enter a treatment/rehab center, they must first be tested for tuberculosis.  The administration and reading of this TB test (a skin test) pose significant barriers to getting the addict in to treatment. The drug addict not only has to be willing and able to get themselves to a health facility for the TB test, but also needs to be able to return to that same clinic for the TB test to be read/interpreted, within a narrow window of time.  Twice, my daughter was unable to get herself back to the clinic to get her TB test read, within the prescribed window of ‘opportunity’. Both times, the bed reserved and waiting for her at the treatment facility, was ‘let go’, because the TB test had not been successfully completed.  Injecting drug use is a major route of TB transmission in most of the world.

The intradermal Mantoux TB test technique is a skin test that must be administered and read after 48 hours.  The addict must then be admitted to the treatment facility within the next 24 hours. This 24 hour window for admission can be a problem, as well as getting the TB test read on time (after 48 hours).  The timing is tricky – a bed may not be available at the treatment facility during the 24 hour TB window for admission.  And it’s difficult to get the addict to comply with these strict timetables. My daughter slept through 2 TB test readings – and had to have a 3rd TB test which only complied with public health criteria because I was able to closely monitor the reading and medical detox admission schedule.  No addict would be able to manage and coordinate this on their own, in my opinion.

•A large amount of white powder in a zip lock bag isn’t necessarily cocaine – but is more likely baking soda used to ‘cut’ cocaine. Baking soda is a base used in preparation of crack cocaine.

heroin withdrawal does not require a medical detox.  Although opiate withdrawal can be very unpleasant, painful, and difficult, the process is seldom fatal;  withdrawing from alcohol is more dangerous and requires medical supervision.  Heroin withdrawal symptoms include: drug cravings, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms that usually last about a week, but may last for many months. More info on heroin withdrawal.

•I realize now that my daughter’s carefully guarded purse, at all times, was a suspicious sign of drug use.  And taking her purse in to the bathroom with her was definitely not normal behavior.  And, odd cell phone use/calls – constantly running out of minutes, losing track of her phone, car keys – everything – weren’t just ‘kooky’ personality traits.

•bic lighters and bits of crumbled foil should be considered suspicious and most likely relate to crack cocaine/heroin use.

•nasal spray containers can be a flag for inhaled heroin use.  Before a drug addict resorts to IV heroin use, they often dissolve heroin in saline and inhale it.

•my daughter was always in financial crises due to drug costs. Her power, water, and TV cable were being turned off regularly; she took out ‘PayDay” loans, pawned jewelry/electronics, was overdrawn in her bank accounts, received a constant barrage of collection agency/creditor letters, etc.  Because she lived on her own in an apartment, I didn’t discover evidence of all of this until she was ultimately evicted from her apartment. In the process of trying to retrieve important, personal family artifacts from her apartment and dispose of her things, I discovered the drawer w/ 4 years of unopened mail. My daughter was, by then, living in a ‘crack house’.

dirty fingernails and poor hygiene (click to read my post regarding this) are suspicious clues to drug use/abuse.

Physical Signs/Symptoms

Because the strength of heroin varies and its impact is more unpredictable when used with alcohol or other drugs, the user never knows what might happen with the next dose. Know the Signs. How can you tell if a friend is using heroin? Signs and symptoms of heroin use are:

  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired mental functioning
  • Slowed down respiration
  • Constricted pupils
  • Nausea

Signs of a heroin overdose include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Clammy skin
  • Convulsions

I can’t believe what I now know and how I learned it.  Look for updates to this list, and I invite you to submit your own “tips”.

These signs/”tips” just in from viewers:

•missing spoons, ball point pens (the type you can take apart and use as a “straw”), tinfoil. My son kept very weird hours and his car kept getting dings and scrapes.

•”I found straws at my daughters apartment – assumed she liked to drink from them; tinfoil balls – didn’t give them a second thought. And every time I pulled a pen out of purse to write she’d say, “Can I have that?” Assumed she lost a lot of pens.”

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9 Responses to “Tips for 2010 – Things I’ve Learned But Would Rather Not Know”

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I learned that an addict has to have heroin in their system in order to be accepted to some treatment centers and it can take 2-3 days to get accepted.

Which led me to learn that I was capable of giving my son $20 and a ride to his dealer, just so he wouldn’t take off while he waited to get accepted. That was a very bad day for me.

Thanks for dropping by, Angela. I empathize and understand completely, the things we do to keep our addicts alive in order to get them the help they so desperately need. I did things that had never occurred to me and/or I’d sworn I’d never do, before becoming a ‘privy’ to the dark world of addiction. I begged the police to arrest my daughter so I’d at least know where she was and that she would be relatively ‘safe’ in a jail cell vs shooting up at the crack house. I knew the locations of all the crack houses and the names/phone #s of dealers and other addicts in her life. It was a miracle that things came together as they did on May 9, 2010 (see blog posts around that date. It was Mother’s Day, and the best gift I will ever receive. Hang in there and keep me posted. Thinking of you, Angela.

Very helpful, wish I knew all this before. Another thing to look for is sloppiness in appearance. Chores not being done. Unfortunately, I enable my daughter and did her laundry, etc. She alwasys took very good care of herself, recently found her going out in her housecoat. If only I would have seen the signs. She is in rehab, asked to go and is on day 14. I continue to pray for her recovery and the recovery of all addicts.

My daughter stole money, jewelry and check books from us. She pawned the jewelry and cashed our checks at the grocery store. Every time this happened, we knew she had relapsed. Since she did not live with us, those were the only signs we had.

Okay, so what you posted here is the type of stuff I wish they had passed out to parents in high school.

I found straws at my daughters apartment – assumed she liked to drink from them.
Tinfoil balls – didn’t give them a second thought.
Every time I pulled a pen out of purse to write she’d say, “Can I have this?” Assumed she lost a lot of pens…

Love the title of this post – so true!!!
I wish all parents of 11-13 year-olds could read this post – and be PREPARED to help their kids at the FIRST sign of drug abuse.

This is a sad list of facts that no parent should ever have to learn firsthand. But its also very informative and I hope that people searching for info on this topic find your blog and can help someone.

A few signs for me were all the pens in the house were missing (the type you can take apart and use as a “straw”), spoons were missing, tinfoil was missing. My son kept very weird hours and his car kept getting dings and scrapes.

I remember once, about three years into this decade of chaos, stating to no one in particular that “I have learned Way More than I would have believed possible about something I wanted to know nothing about!” And that education continues…. Ugh!

And its not just about the drugs. The ridiculous maze of shinanigans that passes for going through our court system has been another eye opener. The games that are played, the bargaining, the slap on the wrist because of crowded facilities preventing real consequences, and on and on.

All I ever want to do is work hard, pay my bills, and enjoy my family and my hobby. I did not want to have such in depth knowledge of this other stuff!


for girls, disappearing into the bathroom for long periods of time with their purse; missing spoons, finding bleach in the bathroom; screens missing out of the bedroom windows (the dealer passes the drug through the bottom corner of the screen while you think your darling is safe in her room)

when the euphoria hits, they have sudden bursts of energy and may clean like maniacs, then, sit on the couch nodding off because in their words, “i worked my butt off” but they will also ‘sleep stand’ or sleep sit, or sleep whatever. when they get the nods, it doesn’t matter. My daughter fell asleep head first in the door of the dishwasher, feet on the ground. she went to load a plate and just zoned right out. like she was doing toe touches, but her head resting on the open door of the dishwasher.

her daughter came in and said “why is mommy sleeping in the dishwasher?

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