Photos: These Are Your Eyes on Drugs
But is it actually possible to determine what drugs someone is on by looking at their pupils?
Are the eyes really the windows to your soul/recent drug use? Vice investigated by visiting a nightclub in Berlin and photographing a bunch of clubbers’ eyeballs (below) to find out how much of a person’s recent drug history can be visually gleaned.
Eyes can offer some clues into a person’s sobriety or lack thereof. Typically, pupils get noticeably larger after taking cocaine, marijuana or amphetamines (Mydriasis) while opiates constrict them (Miosis).
The Hamburg police even use a “pupillograph” (resembling futuristic 3D glasses) to look for signs that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But it’s not foolproof. According to local police official Holger Vehren the device is not “the wonder weapon of drug detection, it’s more of a ‘pre-test’ before a blood test.”
This is because, though a change in pupils can indicate drug use, there are also other factors that can impact pupil size. And sometimes drugs won’t impact pupils at all. “A change in pupil size can be an indication of drug consumption, though it doesn’t have to be,” explains Heike Krause from a Berlin addiction treatment center. “The pupils can also widen for if you’re an epileptic who’s on medication. So we like to look for other, conclusive signs. For example, if someone is heavily sweating.”
But from a medical perspective, eyeballs are in no way a reliable source. Vice contacted an eye clinic at Berlin’s Charité Hospital and they responded that looking at someone’s pupils is absolutely not an effective way to determine drug use.
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