While selling drug paraphernalia—such as bongs or crack pipes—isn’t technically illegal in the United States, it can be expensive and hard to buy discreetly. Many people use inexpensive household products that would never be suspected as drug paraphernalia to smoke crack.
Homemade crack paraphernalia has the added benefit of being difficult for loved ones or law enforcement to recognize as equipment for drug use.
Makeshift Crack Paraphernalia
If you’re concerned that a loved one may be smoking crack cocaine, knowing how to spot makeshift crack paraphernalia may help you decide if your concern is valid.
Homemade Crack Pipes
Chore Boy is the brand name for a copper scrubber that’s notorious for use as a crack pipe filter. Other scouring pads, such as steel wool Brillo pads, may also be used for this purpose. The filter keeps the crack rock from being inhaled when someone smokes it.
Some people use copper wire as a crack pipe filter, too. Look for electrical wiring that’s rolled into a ball and has the insulation sheath stipped off.
Crack cocaine pipes can be made from any thin, cylindrical object composed of metal or glass.
Common household items that may arouse suspicion as crack pipes include:
- a hollow tire gauge
- the hollow part of a car antenna
- a glass eyedropper
- a glass baby food container with holes in the lid
- an aluminum soda can with holes punched in it
- a Yakult plastic yogurt bottle with a hole in the bottom
The “love rose” or “rose in a glass” is also a cheap alternative to a crack pipe. It’s a silk rose in a small glass tube that’s sold at grocery stores and gas stations. While it’s marketed as a romantic gift, it’s commonly used to smoke crack cocaine.
Other Crack Paraphernalia
Metal wires, such as coat hangers or car antennas, are used to push the filter into a crack pipe. Disposable plastic lighters are the most common heat source for smoking crack.
Some people smoke crack without a pipe by placing it on a sheet of aluminum foil and heating it from beneath. They inhale the vapors through a tube, which might be a straw, rolled paper or money, or a hollow pen.
Baking soda might also be considered crack paraphernalia. Cocaine powder isn’t smokeable, but if you heat it with baking soda, it becomes the crack rock that can be smoked.
Dangers Of Makeshift Crack Paraphernalia
Besides the fact that crack cocaine is highly addictive and smoking is bad for your health, making your own crack paraphernalia can be dangerous too.
People have inhaled pieces of makeshift pipe screens, causing throat burns. These pieces may also be sharp going down.
Crack smokers often have burns or blisters on their fingers, lips, and mouth from hot crack pipes. Both metal and glass pipes can get very hot. They might also have sharp edges, which can cut a person’s fingers or lips as they smoke.
Disease transmission is a risk no matter what you use to smoke crack cocaine. Sharing paraphernalia for drug use that comes in contact with saliva and blood (from open lip cuts or sores) can spread diseases like HIV, hepatitis C, and COVID-19.
COVID-19 can cause severe respiratory issues. Smoking crack cocaine damages the respiratory system, so people who smoke are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 complications.
What Should I Do If I Find Crack Paraphernalia?
If you find crack paraphernalia among your loved one’s possessions, don’t ignore it. Whether it’s your spouse or a high school student, experimenting with drug use can lead to a lifelong struggle with addiction.
Smoking crack also comes with the risk of overdose and can cause long-term health issues, such as lung and heart problems. The sooner you address the problem, the sooner healing can begin.
Substance Abuse Treatment
It may be a challenge to bring up the subject of substance abuse to a loved one. Be sure to approach it from a place of love and understanding rather than blame and anger. Addiction is a disease that isn’t the person’s fault; they may need your support to feel safe asking for help.
You may want to consult an addiction treatment or intervention specialist before approaching your loved one. At Ark Behavioral Health, we’re always available to answer your questions.
To learn more about makeshift crack paraphernalia, how to talk to a loved one about substance abuse, or crack cocaine rehab programs, reach out to one of our treatment specialists today.