What is a Ground Score & Why Drug Litter is Dangerous

Olivia Kibaba
|
September 10, 2021

The concept of ground score is simple. Someone leaves behind or improperly disposes of drugs or paraphernalia. Then, whoever finds the drug or item claims it, and it becomes theirs. Lighters, syringes, needles, pre-and post-injection swabs, masks, patches, pipes, filters and even the drugs themselves are common examples of a ground score.

Ground score is a pretty common occurrence around the country. But this doesn't make it any less of a nuisance. When left on the ground, drug paraphernalia pose a risk not just to the environment but also to humans. We'll look at these risks later on in this article. But first, let's make sure we are on the same page.

What is a Ground Score?

A ground score is any desirable substance that's left on the ground. In this case, it can be any drug paraphernalia that drug users leave on the ground after use, such as:

  • Rolling papers and cigars: Used with marijuana
  • Roach clips: Hold onto the blunt or joint when it becomes too short and could burn the fingers.
  • Pipes: Used to smoke street drugs like crack cocaine, crystal meth, heroin and even marijuana.
  • Tinfoil: Used to inhale meth fumes or smoke heroin.
  • Needles and spoons: Spoons are used to dissolve white powder (or any other powder), while needles are used to inject the drugs.
  • Straws, paper tubes, cards, or razor blades: Creating clean, even lines and snorting drugs like heroin and cocaine through the nose.
  • Dust or surgical masks: These are laced with vaporub to boost the euphoric effects of ecstasy or MDMA.
  • Bullet of drugs

People who abuse substances - including street drugs, alcohol, and prescription drugs - are at an increased risk for dependence, addiction, or worse, overdose deaths. Drug use also has side effects that make it hard for one to act responsibly. As a result, many users either leave drug litter around or dispose of it carelessly, exposing the environment and people to wide-ranging risks.

Why Drug Litter is Dangerous

Drug litter can cause serious health problems for those who come into contact with it. It can cause:

  1. Accidental poisoning and exposure: Improper disposal of drugs can be dangerous to children and adults alike. Kids are curious by nature and tend to be drawn to anything colorful or noisy.

    When they see a green or red tablet or capsule lying around the house, they will likely get to it - and taste it. According to research, about 50,000 toddlers aged below five years unintentionally consume medicine. And this can be dangerous depending on the abused drug.

Adults, too, might swallow prescription pills and end up overdosing without knowing. Proper storage or disposal of drugs is the best way to avoid such predicaments.

find-drugs-street-drug-addiction-recovery-litter-paraphernalia-syringe-heroin-meth-cocaine-ecstasy-marijuana
  1.  Environmental contamination: Drug litter can contain other chemicals that are toxic and dangerous to humans and the environment. If many of these chemicals get washed into lakes and waterways, they can contaminate the water that people use for drinking. Meth is particularly dangerous. Since this street drug is entirely artificial, its components throw off the nutrient balance in the nearby soil to the extent that plants can't grow there anymore. And when it finds its way to water, fish and other aquatic animals can die, potentially harming the ecosystem for years.

  2. Infections: People who abuse drugs or engage in high-risk behaviors associated with drug use expose themselves to infections like HIV/AIDs and hepatitis. Viruses spread through body fluids. So, drug users are likely to contract or transmit the virus when they share needles and other paraphernalia or have unprotected sex because of impaired judgment.

    When these people leave sharp paraphernalia lying around, and someone ends up being hurt, the injured person can end up with HIV, hepatitis C, syphilis, Herpes virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, etc. Besides, sharp objects can cause tetanus and other infections - on top of pain.

  3. It enables drug abuse: Drug litter can make it easy for wannabe abusers to access drugs. Today, teenagers abuse prescription pills more than illicit drugs believing the former is safe. It is a wrong belief. In 2019 alone, there were over 36,000 deaths related to the abuse of synthetic opioids. So, proper disposal should be done to lower the likelihood of abuse, whether it's a prescription or illicit drug.

Common places to find drug litter

Drug litter can be found anywhere, including the streets, neighborhoods, schools, and so on. However, you are likely to find drugs at music festivals, nightclubs, parties, and so on. That's because party-goers indulge in illegal drugs and throw the remains all over the place. But you can also find drugs at home when a friend or loved one disposes of their prescription medicines inappropriately.

How to avoid drug littering

Whether intentional or unintentional, improper disposal of drugs and paraphernalia is dangerous to humans and the environment. Littering happens due to:

  • Carelessness or laziness
  • Lenient law enforcement
  • Lack of access to trash receptacles
  • Presence of litter already in the area

But since ground score poses so much danger, it might help to avoid it altogether. There are safe disposal practices that you should follow whenever you want to discard drugs and any material associated with the drugs. One of the safest ways to dump unwanted drugs is to take them to a drug take-back program. It will help if you do this as soon as you realize that you no longer need the drugs. The Food and Drug Administration recommends the following was to avoid drug littering:

  • Take the drugs to the drug take-back program.
  • Flush the medicines down the toilet or sink
  • Dispose of the medicines in household trash. But first, remove them from their original container, mix them with something undesirable like cat litter or coffee grounds, and put the mixture in something you can close.

Effects of drug use and abuse

Drug litter can be a gateway to drug abuse. Synthetic opioids, mostly manufactured in South America, are highly addictive and often lead to substance use disorders - both long-term and  short-term. People, especially teenagers, might experiment with these drugs and end up using them more.

Drug use and misuse can cause side effects like increased heart rate and blood pressure, body temperature, paranoia, and hallucinations. Besides, drug dealers often cut drugs with a series of other substances, exposing one to the risk of overdose and overdose deaths.

Conclusion

Whether prescription or illegal drugs, drug litter is a dangerous problem for society and the environment. To keep your neighborhood clean and healthy, ensure you dispose of anything related to drugs responsibly. 

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