Missouri non-profit helps parents spot signs of possible substance use in kids

“Hidden in Plain Sight.” That’s how one Missouri non-profit describes the warning signs of drug use in teens.
Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 10:18 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - “Hidden in Plain Sight.” That’s how one Missouri non-profit describes the warning signs of drug use in teens.

Erin Johnston is the executive director of “Addiction Is Real”, a non-profit out of St. Louis. Johnston said that the purpose of their non-profit is to help parents protect their children from drugs.

”We’ve been around for several years, and exist only to educate adults who have children in their lives about how to speak to them on substance use,“ said Johnston.

That’s the goal of her Hidden in Plain Sight interactive exhibit and presentation.

“We have a teen bedroom to show parents and adults what they should be looking for, what is a warning sign that should act on as soon as possible,” said Johnston.

Cape County Public Health Educator, Stacy Skidmore, said that kids that use drugs can hide them in various places, including those hidden in plain sight.

“Their backpacks with hidden compartments, there’s also hoodies that kids can hide their vape pens in, there’s also books, containers like Coke cans that kids can hide things in, “ said Skidmore. “You think it’s a harmless thing because you’re not educated and don’t realize.”

Volunteers with Addiction Is Real worked with the Cape County Public Health Center to bring the exhibit to the Osage Center in Cape Girardeau. Skidmore said programs like this help with drug prevention.

“I’m hoping that they learn the new drug trends so that they will be able to more easily spot things that may be going on with their child and get their child some help before it becomes an issue, " said Skidmore.

Alan Pendergrass is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for kids in foster care. He said it’s important to have discussions with children about topics such as this.

“We need to, ya know, work with kids to make sure that they understand that there’s real consequences to doing drugs,” said Pendergrass.

Pendergrass also said he attends events like this to be proactive rather than reactive.

“Some of my CASA kids are 16, 15, 13 you know around those ages I have two different cases, and I just think it is good information to know in case something like this were to come up,” said Pendergrass.

“This is so important right now because we have kids dying all over the place. And it’s never been more important to tell your kids not to take drugs,” said Johnston.

For more information on Hidden in Plain Sight and Addiction Is Real, you can visit their website.