Drugs in a Pringles can: Gates Chili holds interactive drug exhibit for parents

Teen Drug Use

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CHILI, N.Y. — Would you expect to find drugs hidden in the bottom of a water bottle? What about a deodorant container or a computer mouse? Dozens of parents at Gates Chili saw these and many more examples during an interactive drug prevention program Tuesday night.

Parents were brought in small groups inside a middle school classroom, where they walked through “Hidden in Plain Sight.” The exhibit features a fake teenage bedroom, complete with a desk, some shelving, and countless (seemly) innocuous things that a teenager might own.

They’re given a clipboard and a piece of paper and told to identify as many red flags as they can. Organizers with the Council on Alcoholism and Addiction of the Finger Lakes (CAAFL) say most parents get around 15. The room contains 56.

These aren’t all hiding spaces for a dime bag of dope. It could be as seemingly innocent as a Budweiser hat, or a selfie with some friends who are drinking. The idea behind these items is to encourage parents to look at what culture your child is surrounded by.

CAAFL Executive Director Timothy VanDamme said the idea isn’t to train parents how to spy on their kids 24/7. Instead, it’s to teach parents what to spot, so they can open a conversation with their kids on healthy practices.

“I love you and I care about you, I just want to make sure you’re safe,” VanDamme said. “So if we have to have difficult conversations we can do that. If it’s, like, you say, ‘I don’t trust you,’ it’s not about me trusting you, it’s about me loving you and caring about you, and making sure you’re safe. So, if I was to go into my son’s bedroom and tear it apart and trash everything, then I think he would  look at me like, ‘I don’t trust him.’ But because we have those hard conversations, we are able to get through that.”

The event was facilitated by Delphi Rise, an organization that partners with school districts throughout the area to provide resources for teens facing substance use issues. They can be reached by phone at 585-627-1777, or visit their website to see their programs offered.