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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


Signs that your teen might be using drugs could be staring you right in the face.

In an eye opening, interactive workshop held last week in Elkader, about 50 participants—many of them parents or grandparents of teens—wandered through a mock-up of a kid’s bedroom looking for signs of drug use. There were 59 suspicious items hidden in plain sight (also the title of the event); nobody found all 59.

“If you’re observant and know what to look for, kids give it away,” said Clayton County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Moser.

For example, finding the broken base of a light bulb on a teen’s desk and not in the trash should raise a red flag. According to Moser, light bulbs can be used as a pipe to smoke methamphetamine. Homemade smoking pipes can also be crafted from old soda cans, highlighters and lip balm tubes.

Other objects in the bedroom that were not what they seemed included a couple of books with safes inside, and aerosol and soda cans with false bottoms. All can be use to hide drugs. A bag of fake marijuana was hidden in a container of deodorant. Moser also cautioned about the presence of vaporizers, which are increasingly used to mask the smell of marijuana.

He referred to an actual case of two men suspected of illegal activities. They were stopped and their vehicle was searched but no drug items were found because they used vaporizers to smoke marijuana and had the drug in a scent-blocking container. The drugs were later discovered by a K-9 officer.

According to Moser, the drugs most commonly used by Clayton County youth are marijuana, illegal prescription drugs and meth. Adult drug users tend towards marijuana and meth.

The sheriff’s department was one of several partners in the event. Others were the Clayton County Community Collaboration Council (5C), Family’s Helping Hand, Substance Abuse Services for Clayton County and the City of Elkader. Organizers spent more than three months developing the event. Moser said most of the items displayed were examples of drug paraphernalia encountered by his team; a few came from Internet searches.

The groups that sponsored the event are currently raising funds to purchase a trailer for the bedroom exhibit, which will enable them to share their presentation with a wider audience.

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