Why Would a Teenager Store Bottles of Urine?

Reader’s Question

I work in a residential program for pregnant and parenting teens and single young women. Just recently we had a resident who was staying with us; she was a sixteen-year-old who was about 7 months into her pregnancy. This young woman had a history of jumping around through foster care and group homes and has been in and out of correctional facilities, involved in drugs and street life, and was a high flight risk. As of just recently this girl was evicted from our program due to failure to follow house guidelines and follow through with what was expected of her and breech of her order. (This had been going on for months.)

Since she was picked up again, and headed back to the correctional facility, we were left with the task of cleaning up her room and bagging all her belongings. Upon cleaning we discovered quite a few water bottles full of urine. This obviously struck us as very odd. In my experience I have found plenty of unsanitary things in bedrooms such as used personal napkins and tampons discarded on the floor. With those things, I made the link to upbringing and having never been taught to properly dispose of such items. I gathered the same feeling for this young lady, and took clues from the hording and the improper disposal of other garbage, but the urine in the bottle seems to be much different. They were all placed up on the headboard shelf.

So I am wondering if you might have some insight to what this might mean or make sense of it? What would trigger such behaviour?

Psychologist’s Reply

You may not want to hear this answer. Storing bottles of urine is not uncommon in the drug abuse culture. Stored urine, if it’s “clean” and from a non-using individual, can be sold for use during mandatory drug screening for individuals on parole or probation. If she has been off drugs for a time, she may be selling her urine for this purpose. It’s also possible that the bottles contained urine from another individual, hoping she could somehow continue to use drugs and pass her mandatory drug screens with her bottled “clean” urine. This is rarely successful and she may have tested “dirty” again, prompting her return to the correctional facility. Hospitals and law enforcement use many strategies to prevent the use of stored, borrowed or portable urine in drug testing procedures. I won’t be discussing those strategies.

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Most interesting is the use of bottled urine by methamphetamine users. I’ve been told (I’m not a urine expert!) that some meth users actually drink their own urine or the urine of other meth users at times under the assumption that the urine contains active chemical components or metabolites of their meth use. This is apparently another attempt to obtain a “high”.

I have also had experience with individuals who are shy about using group restrooms in group homes, prisons, jails, hospitals, rehab programs, etc. They often hide feces and urine in their living area rather than use a group restroom. This practice is especially common if there is a fear of sexual/physical assault in the group toilet facilities.

Lastly, there are a few cultures that recommend drinking one’s morning urine for health purposes. It seems morning urine contains a high concentration of melatonin, a substance often used for sleep and jet lag. This is unlikely unless the young lady was from Tibet.

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