The Hidden In Plain Sight Program — A Novel and Interactive Approach to Substance Abuse Prevention and Education
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Introduction. Despite stabilizing trends in alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, prescription medication, and illicit drug use reported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, there is clear evidence that substance abuse is pervasive throughout Aroostook county as well as the state of Maine. Further research shows that parents often overlook everyday items that may indicate that an adolescent is engaging in some form of risky behavior. More so, parents are often apprehensive about talking to their children about risky behaviors and do not know how to appropriately manage these issues or where to seek help. Although there are many resources for substance abuse prevention, there has been little research into addressing these concerns in a more impactful, interactive approach.
Objectives. To teach adults how to:
- Identify signs, potential hiding places, and items that may point to risky adolescent behavior.
- Illustrate drug types, drug paraphernalia, and how drugs are used and why.
- Access available resources and what to do if risky behavior is suspected.
Methods. Participants are first debriefed about the workshop, followed by an initial survey that gauges each attendee’s understanding of substance abuse, signs of risky behavior, and prevention techniques. Participants are then permitted to explore an adolescent bedroom mockup where over 100 items are concealed. The coordinator then walks through the exhibit identifying the many items, followed by an information session about how to initiate a conversation with an adolescent and where to seek help. Finally, the program concludes with a question and answer session and follow-up survey that measures each participant’s new understanding of substance abuse, signs of risky behavior, and prevention techniques.
Results. To date, seven workshops throughout Aroostook County have been completed along with 25 evaluations. In the pre- and post-evaluations, six critical educational points were assessed. The table below reflects the percentage of participants that agreed or strongly agreed with each statement:
I know the signs that may reveal risky teen behavior.
I know the hiding places that teens may use to hide risky behavior.
I know the supplies and tools that teens may use to hide risky behavior.
I know drug types, how they are used, and why.
I know what to do if I suspect risky behavior.
I know where to get help for substance abuse and other risky behavior.
Conclusions. Although in its early phases of development, the Hidden In Plain Sight program has shown promising results. Participants leave with a broader understanding of current trends in substance abuse among adolescents and are curious about how to learn more. As the program continues to hold workshops, we hope to better address each objective more clearly, further engage the community on this topic, and spread awareness about this effective, interactive, and eye-opening experience to community coalitions and other groups that have an interest in youth substance abuse prevention programming.
substance abuse, substance abuse prevention, alcohol, drugs, adolescent drug abuse
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Medical Education | Primary Care
Bharmal, Murtaza I., "The Hidden In Plain Sight Program — A Novel and Interactive Approach to Substance Abuse Prevention and Education" (2015). Family Medicine Clerkship Student Projects. 72.