Should Parents Be Concerned About Laced Halloween Candy?

Published On: October 11, 2023Categories: Substance Use

Mass media and newscasters can strike fear into the hearts of any parent by bringing up stories about drugs in candy boxes and heroin in Halloween baskets during the weeks leading up to Halloween. With the holiday itself being a darker, spookier-themed night than all other holidays, it’s no surprise that many parents tread carefully around Halloween festivities.

But how common is it actually for parents to find laced Halloween candy? Do drugs really show up in kids’ pumpkin baskets that often? 

Well, no, they don’t. And while laced Halloween candy is uncommon, it is always good for parents to exercise some caution on October 31st.

Should parents be worried about drug-laced Halloween candy?

Stories have emerged where parents found drugs in their children’s Halloween bags after a night spent trick-or-treating. In 2019, a bag of heroin was found in a boy’s candy bag in New Jersey; a few years earlier, a Wisconsin town urged all their residents to throw out their Halloween candy after meth was discovered amongst a child’s candy haul. 

Now, none of this candy was laced, per se, but the possibility that children could have consumed dangerous drugs thinking it was some form of candy was high. 

Situations like these, though rare, should serve as reminders to parents to always check their children’s Halloween candy once they have brought it home for the night. 

Where do laced Halloween candy rumors start?

There have been minimal stories of drug-laced Halloween candy because drugs are expensive and most dealers are not willing to hand out any amount of drugs for free. Concerns about laced Halloween candy are often based on new stories that involve candy-looking drugs or even illegal substances smuggled in candy packaging. 

For example, in October of 2022, LA County Sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau Detectives and DEA took possession of approximately 12,000 pills of fentanyl someone was attempting to smuggle onboard an airplane in popular candy boxes

While there was most likely no intention of this getting into the hands of unsuspecting children, it prompted a statement from the LA police urging parents to check their kids’ Halloween candy in the off chance that drugs do end up in their children’s bags.

Additionally, various drugs do have the appearance of candy, which could pose certain risks to kids. Rainbow fentanyl, ecstasy and methamphetamine may look like candy to children who are unaware of the risks of illegal drugs. The drugs manufactured to represent common logos – including Netflix and Facebook logos, as well as popular cartoon characters – could be especially misleading.

How can I protect my kids from drug-laced candy?   

Parents have a number of strategies available to them to help ensure their children’s safety. 

  • Encourage your children to not accept anything that is not commercially packaged – homemade goodies, unless from someone you know well, should automatically raise a red flag and be discarded
  • Once your children have returned home, check their bags and the candy they returned with to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary
  • If anything looks questionable, do not be afraid to throw it out 

Signs that candy may have been laced include: 

  • Package labeling with misspelled words or the wrong color/font 
  • Small tears, puncture holes or other signs of tampering, including packages that look like they may have been resealed 
  • Odd odor or color
  • Anything unwrapped 
  • Packaging that is actually marijuana edibles – they may be green colored, have the marijuana leaf printed on the packaging or have “medicinal” printed somewhere on the label

If you suspect you have found illegal substances in your child’s Halloween candy, report it to the local authorities immediately. Or, if you are unsure, but suspect something just isn’t right, or don’t like the look/smell of something your child brings home, use your best judgment and toss it. 

Keeping your family safe this Halloween

It is no secret that drug dealers go to incredible lengths to keep illicit substances disguised, including transporting them in packaging kids may find appealing. And, of course, there are some people out there who would seek to harm innocent children. Sadly, it is something to keep in mind when looking out for your kids. 

In order to keep your family safe this Halloween, consider having an age-appropriate conversation with your children about the risks of contaminated Halloween candy. Alert them to the fact that sometimes candy is not what it seems, and it can make them extremely sick. Ask them to keep from eating any of it until everyone is home and you – the parent – have had the chance to look it over. 

This will not only keep your kids safe, it should give you some peace of mind as well.

Support for your family when you need it 

Looking after a family is not without its challenges. If you are looking for additional support for yourself or your loved ones, consider Tapestry Recovery. 

Reach out online today by calling our offices at 828-490-4032 to learn more about how our programs can benefit you and your family. 

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