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Hidden in Plain Sight: highlights signs of teen drug use

November 21, 2018

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Determining if your child or grandchild is using drugs can be challenging. Most of the signs and symptoms of drug use are attributed to a typical teen or young adult behavior, and drinking and drug paraphernalia could easily masquerade as everyday items leaving oblivious parents in the dark as to their teen’s dangerous habits.

“Drug use simply cannot be ignored,” said Denise Woods, Prevention Coordinator with the Johnson County A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition. “It is imperative to start a dialogue early on about drugs and drinking, and to monitor your child’s behaviors, and sometimes space is essential.”

Sometimes the signs are vividly present yet camouflaged, and this is the premise behind the initiative “Hidden in Plain Sight.”
The coalition, with the help of Quality Furniture, recently highlighted the Hidden in Plain Sight campaign to inform parents how to recognize the signs of drug and alcohol use and put a stop to it before the problem becomes life threatening.

“With permission of the owner, we created a display in the window of Quality Furniture to simulate a teen’s bedroom,” explained Woods, “to highlight items that might indicate possible drug use.”

According to Woods, room décor, hidden compartments, and items to conceal use were located throughout the display room, and parents and caregivers were challenged with pointing out the potential items indicative of drug use. “

Kids are now hiding drugs inside everyday items. What looks like air freshener or even a battery might be a warning sign,” said Woods.

Some of the “hidden in plain sight” items used in the display include dryer sheets, which could be used to disguise the smell of marijuana on clothing, when smoking or storing, and sports drinks or other colored and flavored drinks, which can be mixed with clear alcohol. Everyday items such as a book, could actually be a safe and flasks, used to store and hide alcohol, now come in various shapes and sizes and can be purchased to appear as other inconspicuous items such as lotion bottles, tampons, phone cases, and pens.

Regular marijuana smokers often create kits to help them hide use. These kits might include eye drops to get the red out, mints to freshen their breath, perfume to hide the smell and hand sanitizer to mask the smell on their hands. Mint tin breath mints and gum are used to mask the smell of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes. Additionally, empty boxes can be used to store marijuana or prescription pills. If a teen is lying about using drugs or alcohol, looking the other way is a dangerous mistake. Numerous studies verify that parents’ involvement plays a vital role in preventing adolescent drug use. And the earlier problem is addressed, the better your chances of containing potential damage.

Karen Bogenschneider of the University of Wisconsin Madison wrote a piece called “Other Kids Drink, But Not My Kid.” She found that although all the high school students in the study drank, only one-third of parents were aware of it. More surprising, many parents knew – or suspected – that teens in general drank and that many of their own child’s friends drank. But not THEIR kid.
Informed parents are better able to spot the signs of drug and alcohol use and put a stop to it before the problem becomes life threatening. For more information, visit the A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition office at 138 East Main Street in Mountain City. TN, or call 423-727-0780.