RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Could you walk through your kid’s room and find warning signs of substance abuse? A recent event put some Hanover parents to the test.
Hidden in Plain Sight was a free community initiative featuring a replica of a teenager’s bedroom for participants to browse and observe, becoming familiar with where and how teens might hide drugs or paraphernalia.
The event is hosted by the Teens Care Too Coalition, which is comprised of Hanover County high school students dedicated to educating their peers and parents about the dangers of substance use. Heather Johnson, Adolescent Development Specialist with the Hanover County Community Services Board serves as one of the group’s advisers.
If this room looks like your kid’s room - or at least a cleaned up version of your kid’s room - take a second look. There are 75 signs of drug or alcohol abuse in this picture.
Did you spot the playing cards? The spoons? The lottery tickets?
“These are all indicators of heroin use,” said Octavia Marsh, Executive Director of Hanover Cares.
Posters that look like “Patagonia” but say “Potagonia” and “420” should have caught your eye as well.
“Some culture paraphernalia that’s supporting that pro-marijuana culture,” said Marsh.
How about the laptop? Did it catch your attention at all?
“This is our studious kid here," said Marsh. "They have their laptop in bed studying, looks like they’re just plugging in, but in fact, they’re charging their Juul pod.”
Do you know what a Juul is? There’s nicotine in it, and obviously that’s a concern.
Did you spot the needle cap on the floor?
What about the air freshener, nail polish or nail polish remover? Did those scare you? They may be nothing, but experts said you should be paying attention to them because alternatively, they can be used as inhalants. Or to cover up the scent of something else.
“This looks just like an average pen cup sitting in a teen’s room," said Marsh. "But then you’ll see that there are several vape pens that are in this cup.”
And how about those snacks? The gummies.
“Foods, different cookies, candies, that could be soaked in alcohol,” said Marsh.
Are you surprised by any of the warnings? There are dozens more.
“This event isn’t to scare anybody," said Sgt. James Cooper, with the Hanover Sheriff’s Office. "Or make anybody fearful or anything like that. All they’re doing is providing information in our community and to our youth just to try to get a conversation started.”
School and law enforcement officials followed up with parents after the room search to talk about what they found. They say the most important tip for any parent is to keep the conversation going with your child.
“We know that kids having these conversations with their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs and alcohol compared to those not having those conversations being four times greater to use substances at an early age,” said Marsh
Stay alert, stay informed. If you’re always learning, it’s going to be easier to spot a problem.
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