Experts warn about creative ways to hide drugs

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Highlighters, lipstick, a tennis ball: these are all seemingly Innocent items.  However, with the right know how, they become something much more.

"This tube of lipstick, it's a girl's pipe," explained Gulf Coast Substance Abuse Task Force Director Carolyn Anderson as she picked up the tube.

The Gulf Coast Substance Abuse Task Force is working to educate the community on the many tricks of the drug trade in order to prevent use.

"Let parents know that some of the most common things that you see around your home that you see in child's bedroom may not be so common at all. They may actually be drug paraphernalia that they've hidden," said Anderson.

Many items used to hide drugs or paraphernalia can be purchased locally and legally at stores.

"Take for example this highlighter; it's a marijuana pipe," explained Anderson.  "If I were a classroom teacher and I saw that in a child's purse I would think, it's a highlighter"

Tobacco and novelty stores can legally sell items like the pipe hiding highlighter as long as the items are marketed without reference to drug use.  Anderson has even seen bongs for sale, labeled as water pipes for tobacco.

Aside from this easy access, the experts say the truly scary thing about drug use is there's no longer a stereotype. It could be the suspicious character down the street, or it could be cheerleader next door.

"Parents need to look for any changes in their children's behavior. Have they become irritable?  Have they become withdrawn?  Is there a change in grades? Is there a change in discipline at school?" said Anderson.

Anderson also says the one of the easiest ways for teens to access alcohol is at home.  She suggests that parents and mentors keep a close eye on any alcohol and be aware of quantities.

Experts say drug trends, like spice and bath salts, adapt and change quickly, and that it's important to stay aware of current threats.

"The more that parents, aunts, uncles, the entire community, the more that everyone knows, the better off we are to protect our youth," said Anderson.

Anderson says parents should start talking to kids about drug use at an early age, even as young as kindergarten.  Statistics show that the average age to begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol is around the sixth grade.

A federal study also found that kids who use social media are much more likely to participate in illegal activities like drug use.

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