PORTSMOUTH — When teenagers want to hide their drug use from parents, they’ll often put the contraband right on top of a bedroom bureau, said Pam Shayer.
“Do you know what this is?” Ms. Shayer asked a couple dozen parents gathered on stage inside the Portsmouth High School auditorium Thursday night. She was holding up a package containing what appeared to be multi-colored gummy bears.
The only problem, she said, is that many marijuana edibles look exactly like the candy, and most parents wouldn’t be the wiser.
The same goes for ice cream sandwiches, hot chocolate and candies such as M&Ms. The manufacturers simply change a letter or two in the packaging, “and it looks like what you’d purchase at Stop & Shop,” she said.
Ms. Shayer is coordinator of the Cumberland, Lincoln and North Smithfield Prevention Coalitions. She and fellow Coalition member Terri-Lynn Longpre were at PHS Thursday to present “Hidden in Plain Sight.”
The event, sponsored by the Portsmouth Prevention Coalition, featured a mock teenager’s bedroom set up on the PHS auditorium stage. Parents were invited to view the setup at any time during Thursday night’s open house.
The program was designed to show parents how easy it is for children to hide drugs and drug paraphernalia “right out in the open,” Ms. Shayer said.
As an example, she held up a deodorant stick.
“They’re cutting the top off and hiding stuff inside,” Ms. Shayer said.
Other hiding spots, she said, include remote controls, vases, cellphone cases, lampshades, shoes, stuffed animals, under rugs, behind picture frames or inside light switches.
She held up a can of Red Bull, then tilted it to the side to show that it was actually a stash can for drugs, needles, e-cigarettes or other items. Kids can also easily purchase lipstick pill boxes, she said.
Since vodka is clear, kids put them in water bottles.
“This is old school,” she said.
As for marijuana, joints and bags of weed aren’t the only things parents need to worry about. She held up a small container of lip balm, which can administer topical cannabis by rubbing in someone’s eyes.
“You name it and they can put marijuana in it,” she said.
She also showed examples of e-cigarettes that are used to vape marijuana concentrates, or “dabs.”
“One dab is the equivalent of 20 normal joints,” Ms. Shayer said.
Inhalers, regularly used by people with asthma, can also be used for inhaling these concentrates, she said. While e-cigarettes can often be detected by school officials, inhalers are another story, she said.
She also warned parents to keep an eye out for missing or bent spoons, which are used for cooking heroin and other drugs. And if you see your child using Visine all the time? That could be a sign of marijuana use, she said.
Parents should also be skeptical if they see Endust, Dust Off or similar products in their children’s bedrooms, as they’re often used as a cheap way for youths to get high through “huffing,” she said.
The biggest shock for parents came when Ms. Shayer held up a water bottle with something inside: a tampon. Again, she asked parents to imagine the bottle filled with vodka.
“Kids will insert this before a school event because it cannot be detected by a breathalyzer,” said Ms. Shayer. “Both boys and girls are doing this. You get intoxicated very fast.”
A worst-case scenario, she said, is when the user becomes so drunk that he or she will have to be rushed to the hospital.
“They have to go to the emergency room, but there’s nothing in their stomach to pump,” Ms. Shayer said.
The popular myth-busting website Snopes.com claims there are no documented cases of people actually using this “vodka tampon” or “alcohol enema” to get drunk. However, other news reports and websites say the practice does happen, although they are isolated incidents.