Parent University teaches locals about how clever kids can be when hiding alcohol and drugs

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU)- Several parents went back to school Tuesday night, looking to be more prepared when it comes to helping prevent drug and alcohol use.

Part of the goal of Parent University is to make parents aware of how clever kids can be when they're trying to hide these items.

Hiding drugs and alcohol has become a creative game for some teens.

“It’s scary to know it could be hidden in plain sight and you wouldn't have any idea,” said Jeanna Bloom, a parent in Chippewa Falls.

As part of Parent University at Chippewa Falls Middle School community members, including Bloom, were tasked with finding 24 items that could potentially hide drugs and alcohol in a mock bedroom.

“I think for those of us, I don't want to say lead a sheltered life, but people are getting very, very creative at hiding their drugs,” said Andrea Smith, the director of the Cardinal Community Learning Center with the school district. Marijuana is kind of a gateway drug and much of what's hiding in plain sight is marijuana-related.”

Organizers said they’re not encouraging people to rummage through their kids’ bedrooms or dorms, but just wanted people to know what kinds of items are out there and accessible.

Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor Melissa Jackson at L.E. Phillips Libertas Treatment Center said the most common substance abuse she sees among teens is alcohol, marijuana and nicotine; with the most increasing trend of e-cigarettes.

“Usually they start experimenting as young as 10 or 11-years-old with tobacco or alcohol and marijuana,” Jackson said. “They usually don't seek services though until later until their use has caused them some problems.”

Organizers say everything parents found in the mock bedroom was sold on Amazon, except for the pink highlighters, adding the reason they’re able to sell them on the website is because they’re sold as places to hide your valuables.

For parents looking for answers, “The biggest question I get the most is how do I get them to want to stop?” Jackson said. Adding, sometimes the best thing you can do is to help yourself first.

“If you're child isn't responsive to any of your efforts, its ok for you yourself to seek help, to seek counseling, seek professional support while you go through this difficult time,” Jackson said. “Just because they don't want to get help or aren't cooperative doesn't mean you can't get help.”

The Cardinal Community Learning Center is hoping to put on a similar event this fall. They said there's a coalition in Chippewa County also applying for a grant to get a similar mock bedroom, like the one they borrowed from Barron County for Tuesday night’s event.

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