ARLINGTON, Wash. — Would you know if your teenager was abusing drugs?
How would you know what to look for?
Those are just a few questions posed by the Arlington Drug Awareness Coalition. The group is planning a first of its kind, hands-on seminar for parents on how to look for signs of drug abuse.
This program is intended to give parents a peek into the world of an addict. The goal is to show moms and dads what to look for if their kids might be using drugs and how to help steer them into sobriety.
“The more information and education you have, the more likely you are to talk to your child about drug use before it ever happens,” said Andrea Conley, co-chair of ADAC.
Conley believes parents not only have the right but also the responsibility to know what is going on behind their teenager’s bedroom door.
“Some people would see that as invasion of privacy,” she said. “But they’re still children, they’re still in your home and you still have the right to access their bedroom.”
Heroin deaths have been called an epidemic by officials in Snohomish County. In 2014, heroin overdose deaths surpassed opioid overdose fatalities for the first time since 1999.
That’s why ADAC is presenting the ‘Not in My House’ seminar for parents to teach them how to spot early signs of drug abuse in their own homes.
“The goal is to be able to make it very real to them,” said Conley. “We’re going to be asking participants to go through the room and find where the drugs are, where the paraphernalia is, if they can find them."
The seminar will showcase a pair of mock bedrooms, similar to a teenager’s room. Health and police officials will teach parents how to search out and find drugs and paraphernalia that could be hiding in plain sight.
“Day to day things like maybe some laundry, or maybe it’s a Coke can, or maybe it’s something that you would expect to see in a teenager’s bedroom.”
Last year ADAC produced a video sharing messages from local young people recovering from addiction.
“I had a buddy in middle school. We’d hang out, smoke weed, it was fun,” said one young man.
“The first time I ever had a withdrawal from opiates I didn’t really know what happened to me,” said another.
The goal of the video was to bring the stigma of drug abuse out of the shadows and, like the mock bedroom seminars, to remind parents drug abuse isn’t something that only happens to the neighbor’s kids.
“To step in and intervene if they need to,” said Conley. “To go and have access to their child’s bedroom and feel I’m doing to the right thing as a parent.”
There will be two seminars happening Thursday at 6:30 p.m. One takes place at Lakewood High School and the other at Weston High School.
The events are free and open to the public. Counseling and addiction-recovery information will also available.