Drug experts: Trust your gut about warning signs in your teen's room

  • Executive Director Ashleigh Nowakowski of Your Choice to Live, Inc. speaks about the properties of vaping materials during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substances in a common bedroom setting.

      Executive Director Ashleigh Nowakowski of Your Choice to Live, Inc. speaks about the properties of vaping materials during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substances in a common bedroom setting. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Audience members listen during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substance use.

      Audience members listen during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substance use. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain, right, listens during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substance use.

      Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain, right, listens during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substance use. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon makes opening remarks during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substance use.

      Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon makes opening remarks during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substance use. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon makes opening remarks during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substance use.

      Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon makes opening remarks during the "Wake Up Call" program at Geneva High School Tuesday evening. The program is designed to educate parents and caregivers about trends in teen drug use and how to detect the methods teens use to hide substance use. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/23/2019 6:45 AM

Seemingly innocuous items in your child's room can be signs for drug and alcohol use and abuse.

That bottled water could be hiding vodka. Shake it -- if it's flat, it's really water, but if there are bubbles and foam at the top -- alcohol is present.

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Tampon boxes, hollowed-out hairbrushes and stuffed animals are prime spots to hide contraband. And even that apple can be hollowed out into a makeshift pipe for marijuana.

These were a few tips Tuesday night at Geneva High School during "Wake Up Call," a life-size exhibit of a boy and girl teen bedroom with dozens of "red flags" that can signal drug or alcohol use.

"I missed a lot of these signs. I was not educated," Sandi Lybert, founder of the Wisconsin nonprofit Your Choice to Live, which was making its first presentation in Illinois, told parents. "It is your responsibility and your job to say zero tolerance. You have every single right to go through your child's room. We always think it's not going to be our child. Knowledge is power."

The Geneva Community Unit School District 304 and the Kane County Juvenile Justice Council partnered to host the program, which also will be held Wednesday night in Burlington.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said more than 330 people have died in the last seven years in Kane County from opioid use, which is more than the combined firearm and domestic violence murders during that same time.

"This is an important topic for all of us to talk about," McMahon said. "I hope when you go home, you will have a conversation with your kids and listen to them."

Katie Westerman, educational coordinator for Your Choice to Live, said the goal was to teach parents what are drug trends and how to spot them.

"What you see today in the bedroom (exhibit) can also be found in a car, a purse or a locker," she said.

Most parents know that "420" can signify marijuana use, but "710" is now code for vaping THC as it is "OIL" flipped upside down, for example.

"It's not just nicotine people are vaping. You can vape almost any substance," added Ashleigh Nowakowski, Your Choice executive director. "If your gut is screaming something is off, something is off."

A second area presentation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Burlington Central High School, 44W625 Plato Road, Burlington. For more information and to register, visit www.yourchoice-live.org/events.

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