Kearny High School: Hidden (Drugs) In Plain Sight Program

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If you found out a young person you loved somehow developed a substance-abuse issue, would you know what to do? Where to turn? Where resources may be found? Sadly, someone reading this story right now may very well know someone young who is suffering from substance abuse — in utter silence, and right before your very eyes.

It’s everywhere. And it’s a major problem.

It could be in an Altoids can. It could be inside a sock. Drug users are getting more and more creative by the day, or so it seems. To ensure that mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, brothers, sisters cannot detect what’s being hidden, young people conceal their drugs in plain sight

At Kearney High School this week, Jennifer Collins and retired Kearny Police Department Deputy Chief Jack Corbett Sr. presented the Hidden in Plain Sight program, a presentation offered to parents of young people by the Drug Enforcement Administrator and, more particularly, DEA Supervisory Special Agent Timothy P. McMahon.

Corbett and Collins say in the program, “McMahon will guide attendees through an exhibit and explain substance use trends, signs and symptoms in an effort to provide resources for parents and community members to help keep children healthy and drug-free.”

“Drugs can be hidden inside pens, in false bottom of soda cans,” Corbett said. “It is sometimes right there.”

The Kearny Prevention Coalition, combined with the Teen Prevention Coalition, all have different missions, though they’re all connected to substance abuse. But the overall goal remains the same — sending a message to the young and not so young that substance abuse exists, it is a disease and there are scores of people.

Collins and Corbett in particular, who have dedicated their lives to making sure people know — help is out there, as dire as it might seem, there is hope and there is absolutely no longer a stigma attached to addiction, as hard as that may be for some to fathom. “It’s much more about making good choices,” Collins said. “A young person’s brain is still developing, so while marijuana may be legal for adults, it’s not an acceptable choice for teenagers.”

And it can be even worse with vapes. Yes, some are indeed sold legally. But those aren’t the ones of greater concern — it’s the vape pens being sold on the street that could easily be laced with something as deadly as fentanyl, among other substances.

“Some of the newer drugs aren’t even NARCAN resistant and are many times more potent,” Collins said. “In the coming weeks, we’ll also be highlighting more about the Teenage Coalition, a cross-section of kids from grades 7 to 12.

But for now, it’s all about Hidden. “If we can help to save one person, it’s a victory,” Collins said.

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