Program aims at identifying potential substance abuse

Hidden in Plain Sight comes to Lenape Valley High School

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  • It may look like a normal bedroom, but,,, Photos provided by the Center

  • Something may be hidden in a flashlight

  • Or in a hollowed out book

  • Or what appeared to be a soda can

By Laurie Gordon

— Last week, a program aimed at addressing the current drug trends among Sussex County youth came to Lenape Valley Regional High School. Created for parents, grandparents, clergy, youth leaders, teachers, counselors, nurses and any other adult community member that cares for youth and who is over the age of 18, “Hidden in Plain Sight” showed strategies to identify paraphernalia and hiding spots that are associated with drug use, provide prevention strategies that parents can use to help keep kids healthy and resources to help those that might be affected by substance use disorder.

Hidden in Plain Sight was first held in Sussex County during the Spring of 2014 at Byram Intermediate School. The program originated in Copley, Ohio and was created by Copley Police Department. A local prevention coalition in Ohio was an intricate part of their Hidden in Plain Sight. This coalition provided Center for Prevention & Counseling an overview of the program and a few tools to help us create our own Hidden in Plain Sight Exhibit for Sussex County. The Center has further developed this program to address current drug trends among our Sussex County youth, identify paraphernalia and hiding spots that are associated with drug use, Since 2014, Hidden in Plain Sight has been presented in and around Sussex County nearly 25 times reaching over 2,000 community members.

Said Tina Aue, director of Prevention Services at The Center for Prevention & Counseling, “We have over 100 items hidden through-out the bedroom. Inside socks, shoes, taped inside drawers- unnoticeable when drawer is pulled out, in pockets and seams of clothing articles in closet, in video game consoles, cell phone cases, ledge inside closet door, hem of curtains. Sometimes most obvious is less obvious – pottery container on dresser or bookshelf, inside book bags and unused bags in closet and under bed, hollowed out books on bookshelf, various stash containers hidden through-out.”

And there are other signs. Seemingly innocent items can be clues.

“Excessive amounts of Visine and breath mints, loose tobacco in garbage, vapes, large quantity of small colored or neutral rubber bands, baggies, coffee grinds, cotton soaked in water, belt that is adjusted to fit unnaturally small, loose, random pills found in pockets or bags, 'candy' in plastic Ziploc type bags, 'stash containers' and even Red Bull,” Aue said can all be indicators.”

Becky Carlson, the director of The Center for Prevention & Counseling said, “The goal of this program is to educate parents regarding substance use trends among youth in Sussex County, identify what substances look like and potential hiding spots, provide strategies to help keep kids healthy and to understand that in Sussex County, we have resources to help those in need, both for youth and those over the age of 18.” She added, “ It is critical for parents to understand that early invention is key to keeping kids healthy. If you suspect your child is using alcohol, marijuana or other substances, addressing it at that first time is critical as it could escalate to addiction and lead to other substances. Parents can use school as a resource, Lenape Valley Regional High School, Anthony Grillo is the Student Assistance Counselor. Parents and concerned community members can also always call The Center for Prevention and Counseling as we can certainly help answer questions parents/ caregivers may have and provide counseling and recovery services to those that are affected.”

Presenters at Hidden in Plain Sight included: Aue, Patrice Reilly, Community Educator at CFPC, Sussex County Prosecutor Francis Koch, Byram Police Sergeant D. DeWald, Stanhope Police Sargent R. Hickman, and Anthony Grillo, Student Assistance Counselor at Lenape Valley Regional School.

If you missed Hidden in Plain Sight, you're not out of luck. It's going to be held at High Point Regional High School on Tuesday, November 7 from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. This program is being sponsored by Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc.–Take the Power away from Drugs Initiative, High Point Regional High School and Sussex Wantage Alliance.

For further information about this program or the Center for Prevention & Counseling, visit: <URL destination=" ">

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