Capt. David Huff has a long list of things people have used as drug pipes.
“If you name an item, I've seen it where people smoke out of it,” Huff said. “A used light bulb, a Mountain Dew bottle, a socket from a wrench set — if they can put (drugs) in it, light it and inhale the vapors, they'll do it.”
Huff, investigations division commander for the Midwest City Police Department, taught Oklahoma Department of Human Services employees, along with members of the public, Wednesday how to identify illegal and prescription drugs.
Huff talked about a variety of drugs, ranging from cocaine and meth to toad licking and Jimson weed. He also explained some of the signs and symptoms of a person who is under the influence of drugs.
For example, “nystagmus” is a term used to describe when a person's eyes are shifting quickly back and forth without their control.
This occurs sometimes when someone has taken a variety of drugs, Huff explained. However, there are some rare medical conditions that can cause nystagmus.
“Several drug categories cause this,” Huff said. “If you see this with someone, there's a good chance they're under the influence of something.”
DHS hosted the event to give their employees an opportunity to learn about the types of drugs they might come into contact with when entering people's homes, said Connie Schlittler, the DHS director of planning, research and statistics.
“They want to know, if their clients are using, how to identify it, so this was really a way to increase their skills and knowledge,” she said.
Look into their eyes
Huff said one of the quickest ways to tell whether someone is under the influence of drugs is to look into their eyes.
If someone's pupils are dilated, or much larger than normal, then they might have used LSD or MDMA, also known as ecstasy.
Meanwhile, if a person's pupils are constricted, or much smaller than normal, he or she might have taken narcotic analgesics.
The eyes are important to drug recognition experts like Huff because they provide details that a person can't hide. If a person is an addict, he or she might be able to hide some of the physical effects of being high.
“The things we look for in the eyes, they can't be faked,” Huff said. “It's going to happen regardless of whether they want it to or not. People can't control their eyes and say, ‘Do not dilate.'”
Huff said it is best not to directly confront someone suspected of taking drugs.
“If you do see something that looks like a meth lab, and you confront them, the next thing that may come out is a gun,” he said. “Please, please just back out and call us.”