Can you spot the signs of substance use in this teen bedroom?
At first, it seems like a normal teen’s bedroom setup. There is a hairbrush on the dresser. A trash can sits by the desk. A junk drawer holds office supplies and random items.
Unscrew the head from the hairbrush, and you’ll discover a place to store marijuana. At the bottom of the trash is folded up aluminum foil with what appears to be black tar heroin inside. And inside that junk drawer are several pocket-size ziplock bags that are certainly not meant to hold office supplies.
Allison Strawn, who is a School Nurse Consultant at Douglas County High School (DCHS), stashed these items, along with 80 other items for a mock teenager’s bedroom setup that showcases for parents and the community, signs of potential substance use and abuse. The mock bedroom is part of a Substance Abuse Resource Fair next Thursday, September 14, a free event open to everyone in the Douglas County community, hosted by DCHS.
“[DCHS Principal] Tony Kappas and I had the opportunity to go to St. Louis earlier this year and learn from a non-profit called Addiction is Real. We really liked their messaging and decided to extend their non-profit out to Colorado,” Strawn said. “The bedroom, called “Hidden in Plain View”, is a completely interactive tool that is hands on. It allows parents, grandparents, and others to touch the items and see how many they can find. We hope that this education may lead to a discussion with a student about unhealthy or risky choices they may be making. In plain view, there does not seem to be anything out of the ordinary but your eyes are opened when you begin to look deeper.”
Off to the side, a display provides the answer key to the over 80 warning signs hidden— or hidden in plain view — throughout the bedroom. The goal for the setup is to help parents identify these warning signs before substance use turns into addiction.
Allison and Tony wanted to dovetail onto AIR’s educational opportunities to provide the community with additional resources specific to Douglas County students and families. Also present for the Resource Fair is the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Castle Rock Police— who will also be hosting a drug take-back event (prescription and over the counter drugs only, marijuana and illegal drugs will not be accepted), the Douglas County Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, the Juvenile Assessment Center, Castle Rock Adventist Hospital, the Colorado Consortium, Highlands Behavioral, CASA, Denver Springs, and All Health Network.