MIAMI COUNTY — What may look like an innocent bottle of water on a nightstand could very well be a hiding place for illegal substances in your child’s room.
The Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health unveiled its traveling exhibit “Hidden in Plain Sight” this week.
The Hidden in Plain Sight room provides parents or adults with clues from a teen’s bedroom to help them determine whether their child might be experimenting with or using drugs or alcohol. Room décor, hidden compartments and items to conceal use are located throughout the room.
Items range from normal household goods to objects designed to conceal “valuables” but are commonly used to hide drugs are placed “in plain sight” in the mock-up of a teen’s room.
Prevention and Wellness Coordinator Ian Ridgeway said Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health saw the exhibit at a convention and mocked up their own room design to educate parents and other adult groups in Darke, Shelby and Miami counties.
“It’s an interactive parent awareness education program that helps them look for signs and symptoms that their kids may or may not being using drugs or alcohol and substances like that,” Ridgeway said.
For example, Ridgeway grabbed what looks and feels like an ordinary Aquafina water bottle to the naked eye. Upon closer inspection, with a twist of the wrist, the bottom of the water bottle is removed and a hidden compartment is unveiled, hidden by the label of the water bottle.
“It pops open and its a little safe so you can hide stuff in there. Unless you know what you are looking for you’d never see it,” Ridgeway said.
With the increasing popularity of direct-to-the-door shipping companies like Amazon, items such as the “Hidden Can Safe Stash Bottle” with either a water bottle label or Mt. Dew label can be shipped to your home for approximately $12.
Ridgeway said the items used to conceal instruments such as one-hitter pipes and smoking tools are cheap and easily accessible online instead of walking into physical headshops or stores.
“It is very sophisticated and easy to get. Any kid that has $10 in their pocket, they can go down to the local gas station or store or they can get an Amazon giftcard and have it shipped to their home,” Ridgeway said.
The Hidden in Sight program also encourages parents to start an ongoing conversation about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs at an age appropriate level. The program also educates adults of the new drugs trends in the area, including over the counter herbal supplements or even common cold medicine manipulated to produce a high.
The organization invites parents or other adult-based organizations with adults over the age of 21 to make an appointment to look around the room and try to identify potential items that could be a sign of risky behavior.
Brad Reed, community outreach coordinator, said most teens or kids know about the items and the audience they are trying to reach are the parents or guardians.
“Some parents don’t understand the level of sophistication and the availability of the paraphernalia. Not everything in here is paraphernalia,” said Reed. Other education tools include secret codes for drug abuse or signs to look for of pending tobacco or drug abuse such as eye drops.
If you would like to schedule a presentation or tour of the Hidden in Plain Sight exhibit for your adult-based organization in Miami, Shelby or Darke counties, contact Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 335-7727.