OTTAWA — A lipstick case that transforms into a smoking pipe. A full
bottle of root beer that, when pulled apart, serves as a hiding place.
Alcoholic energy drinks that look uncomfortably similar to their soft
drink cousins. Alcohol-infused whipped cream. These were just a few of
the items discussed and on view at Hidden In Plain Sight, a program
designed to promote awareness of drug abuse, particularly amongst
While attendance at the April 9 presentation, held at
the Putnam County Educational Service Center, was slight, the message
“(Drug abuse) is going on all the time,’” said Amy
Barrett, executive director of the coalition AWAKE, which sponsors HIPS.
“It’s happening in cars, in backpacks, in duffel bags…everywhere.”
according to Barrett, not only all the time and everywhere, but across
all economic stratas and throughout all social cliques, as well. Barrett
and Brad Baker, school resource officer for the Anthony Wayne Public
School District and an officer in the Whitehouse Police Department,
emphasized that all children and young adults have the potential and the
opportunity to abuse drugs.
“I think that’s the most common misconception,” Barrett said. “Everyone thinks it’s the ‘bad’ kids.”
Baker ran through a list of the most commonly used drugs — alcohol,
marijuana, prescription drugs and heroin topped the list — he also
discussed who was most likely to abuse them. Athletes use painkillers.
Academics use stimulants and drugs intended to combat ADHD. Junior high
kids chug bottles of cough medicine and chew bubble packs of cold and
allergy tabs. And marijuana is universal.
“With the hard push to
get the word out about smoking, it’s become more socially acceptable to
smoke marijuana than cigarettes,” he said.
So, how can parents
minimize the potential for abuse? By eliminating opportunities. Both
Barrett and Baker recommended maintaining an inventory of all
prescription drugs. Further, if there are any leftovers from a script,
dispose of them. A drug drop-off box in the lobby at the Putnam County
Sheriff’s Office is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In
addition, the sheriff’s department regularly offers Drug Drop Off days,
with the next taking place on April 26 in several Putnam County
communities, details of which are available from local law enforcement.
Most importantly, though, Barrett and Baker emphasized vigilance and a skeptical nature.
“Never take anything for granted,” Baker said. “If your kids aren’t acting themselves, investigate.”