MEDINA — Senate President Larry Obhof said he was more than a little concerned after he toured the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative of Ohio Cares educational trailer Tuesday, which was parked outside the Medina County Sheriff’s Office.
He walked through an exhibition of what a typical teenager or young adult’s bedroom might look like and saw some of the dangers of substance abuse. Obhof, R-Montville Township, was there when a former police officer showed him a pop can and water bottle that unscrews for a place to stash drugs.
Also there, he saw a computer mouse that opened up to reveal a drug scale.
“What possible use could these have other than for drugs?” he asked.
The objects can be purchased online, said Joe Abdalla, a 30-year veteran with Washington, D.C., police, who was onhand during the tour. Abdalla spent 28 years in the narcotics unit.
The soda can and water bottle are advertised as a “safe.” The scale is said to be used to weigh jewelry or diamonds, he said.
Obhof said he doesn’t buy the explanations.
“They know what it’s being used for,” he said.
The stop in Medina was one of 12 statewide for the trailer. The tour started in Columbus on April 10 and will be in Canton today. Created in partnership with Code 3, the program is part of RALI Ohio’s ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
“This is an important effort that will help Ohio families identify early warning signs of drug abuse and take action,” said Marcie Seidel, executive director for Prevention Action Alliance in Ohio, a partner of RALI Ohio.
Besides Obhof, Medina County Drug Task Force Director Gary Hubbard was on hand, along with Sheriff Capt. Kevin Ross and Lafayette Township Trustees Mike Costello and Lynda Bowers.
Ross said he had his entire staff go through the exhibit.
“I’d love to have more people here to see what (these things) are used for,” he said.
Obhof said it was an eye-opening experience.
“It’s important for parents to have an opportunity to see something like this,” he said. “I’m glad an organization like this will help educate people.”
Abdalla joked that the mock bedroom was “much cleaner” than most teenagers’ rooms.
It was put together after conferring with parents, former addicts, and police officers and firefighters, and asking them what information they would pass on. The tour took 10 to 15 minutes to walk through.
Abdalla said shoelaces, belts and ties are often used by drug users as tourniquets. Having shoes in the closet without any laces is “an immediate sign of drug use.”
Also, unless a child is a diabetic, there is no reason for them to have a syringe in their room.
He instructed parents to constantly check the pockets of their children’s pants, coats and shirts, as well as to go through their trash for signs of drug abuse.
Abdalla said as the addiction progresses, the kids get lazier and leave more clues around their room. Also, if they are injecting drugs, there could be blood stains on their sheets or clothes.
He said parents should keep an eye out for short straws used to snort drugs like cocaine, heroin, crushed pills and Molly, which is slang for the street drug ecstasy.
Abdalla said the drugs are universally packaged in small, knotted plastic bags. He cautioned parents to keep a sharp eye out for the little packets.
The most abused prescription drugs come from family and friends; they could be drug dealers and not even know it, Abdalla said.