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Parents tasked with spotting signs of substance abuse at new event in Renton

Can parents be absolutely certain that their teens are not using drugs or alcohol? Or are there signs of substance abuse that may not be immediately apparent?

This is the theme of Hidden in Plain Sight, a new event put on by Influence the Choice — the Drug Prevention Alliance for Youth on March 28 at Liberty High School in Renton.

The event will begin with what Influence the Choice Director Pat Castillo called a “scavenger hunt” through a mock set-up of a teenager’s bedroom and bathroom. Attendees will have the chance to walk through the rooms and see if they can spot signs of drug and alcohol use.

“We really wanted to give parents experiential learning and the skill development opportunity to be aware of drug use with their kids … so parents are being active in keeping their kids drug-free,” Castillo said.

Some of the items in the display will be typical red flags, such as empty alcohol bottles, while others, such as an energy drink that has alcohol mixed in or a book that is hollow on the inside — allowing for the hiding of drugs — will not be as obvious to the untrained eye.

“They’ll see what they can find … would they know what it was for?” Castillo said.

At press time, Castillo said that the alliance had collected around 31 items, but hopes to have 40 by the day of the event.

After the walk-through, a presentation will be given to show attendees what they might have missed in the rooms; at the end of the evening, they will have the opportunity to walk through the bedroom and bathroom a second time and spot what remained “hidden in plain sight” the first time.

The importance of having conversations with kids about substance abuse will also be stressed.

“Parents are the No. 1 prevention tool,” Castillo said.

The alliance first heard about the idea of a spot-the-signs walk-through from a treatment facility in Bellingham, and hopes to make this a regular event in the Issaquah School District. The current plan is to host another Hidden in Plain Sight evening in Sammamish in May and in Issaquah in June.

Hidden in Plain Sight will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Liberty High, located at 16655 136th Street, Renton. To RSVP, go to

Influence the Choice is an initiative of the Issaquah Schools Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Issaquah School District students succeed.

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