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‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ Teaches Parents to Spot Signs of Hidden Substance Use

Filed in Events, Parents by on November 14, 2017 • views: 330

Being able to recognizing signs of substance use was the primary message of a workshop at the Manor Club on November 29th — being surprised at how ill-equipped they were to do that prior to the presentation was the near-universal feeling of those who attended. Two dozen Pelham parents learned to identify vape pens, flasks disguised as everyday objects, and slang terms for marijuana. Participants were surprised to learn how many innocent-looking items might contain drugs or alcohol. The internet has made available to teens items these parents would have had a lot more difficulty buying when they were in high school. The presentation, co-sponsored by Pelham PACT and Pelham’s Community Care Center, was given by two experienced counselors from Student Assistance Services, Judy Meazy and Beverly Pierce. Their message was not, “Be suspicious of everything” or “Don’t trust your child,” but instead “Knowledge is power” and “Let’s get our heads out of the sand and recognize signs of substance use that are right under our noses.” Participants found the presentation informative and empowering — with all that they had learned, they could have more educated conversations with their teens about drug and alcohol use.

The evening began with participants entering a “mock teen bedroom” with the usual items strewn about. All were invited to rummage freely through the teen’s backpack, bookshelf, nightstand and purse and to try to identify items that might reveal that the teen was using drugs or alcohol. Parents laughed as they discovered false bottoms in numerous everyday items — soda bottles and hair brushes.  They didn’t laugh as they saw that flasks are being disguised as tampons and bottles of hand lotion, items they would never have suspected would be anything other than what they appeared. Many of the items were related to “vaping,” (smoking e-cigarettes) and to smoking marijuana using tools that looks like bracelets, flash drives and pens. Most parents admitted they never would have recognized these items as related to substance use.

Kristin Quintano, Pelham’s own Student Assistance Counselor, helped answer questions raised by parents after touring the room. Ms. Quintano works full-time at PMHS and PMS but is not a Pelham school district employee. She explained that all conversations teens and parents have with her are confidential; she cannot disclose the information with school administrators or put it into the student’s official file. Her experience in our school since September helped inform the round-table discussions that took place during the final portion of the evening. At their tables, participants talked about their own rules about substance use, how they handle talking with their children about substance use, their fears about substance abuse, and the value of being able to talk with other parents about these issues.


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