Operation: Street Smart Educates Parents, Counselors, Police

Operation: Street Smart attendees Tina Kern, of A Renewed Mind, and Mike Schmidlin, of Celebrate Recovery, look at what appears to be a large nut and bolt, but is actually used to conceal small amounts of drugs. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — The tubes of lipstick, cell phones, shampoo bottles and other household products on the stage are not what they seem. “People are always coming up with new ways to conceal drugs,” noted Whitehouse Police Deputy Chief Todd Kitzler, one of more than 100 first responders, nurses, social workers, counselors and parents attending the September 6 Operation: Street Smart training at CedarCreek Church. Sponsored by Awake Community Coalition, the six-hour training was led by retired and current members of Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit. Retired Capt. Shawn Bain and Sgt. Michael Powell present about 150 trainings in communities nationwide each year, to showcase the latest in drug concealment and trends. “Long before you find the drug you’ll find the paraphernalia. If you know what it looks like, you can stop and get a handle on it,” Bain said. The pipes, containers and other paraphernalia lining the stage of CedarCreek Whitehouse were gathered from head shops, convenience stores and online shops, said Sgt. Michael Powell. Parents should look in teens’ trash, purses and pockets. “Janitors in schools can learn a lot from garbage,” Powell said. With Ohio leading the nation in opioid-related deaths, the community needs to get behind stopping drug abuse of all kinds early, he said. “Maybe the path started 10 years ago with alcohol or marijuana,” Powell said. “We see a lot of enabling. It could be by siblings, parents, teachers, supervisors and clergy. It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, it’s just marijuana.’ By not saying anything, we’re letting so much go. If it was cancer, you’d want to stop it at stage 1 when your chances of stopping it are better. Why would I want to sit back and do nothing until it’s stage 4?” Bain and Powell also conduct workplace meetings, because drugs have a huge impact on employees and employers. Often fellow employees or supervisors are afraid to address suspicions of drug use, usually triggered by tardiness, sloppy work or stealing. “Stand up and speak out,” Bain said. “Don’t wait for an employee to die.” Thankfully, the community has many resources available for those battling drug addiction and the families and friends who support them, said Amy Barrett, executive director of Awake Community Coalition. Often she gets calls or questions from parents seeking information on how to identify and treat drug use. The website www.awawake.org has links to many of those resources. One of those resources is Celebrate Recovery, a faith-based group that meets every Friday night at CedarCreek Whitehouse. While only a small portion of the adults in Celebrate Recovery have addiction issues, many are parents who are wondering how to identify and deal with drug use, said co-leader Mike Schmidlin. “This is beneficial information. We can tell them what kind of symptoms to look for,” said Schmidlin, who has been in recovery for 12 years. Harbor House early childhood mental health educator Lyndsay Stormer sometimes sees the impacts of family addictions on children. A 2008 Anthony Wayne graduate, Stormer is also an Ohio-certified prevention specialist. “This will help me to identify what to look for in families – whether it’s siblings, parents or others in the home,” she said. Professionals attending the event received continuing education credits. Awake also hosted a two-hour version of Operation: Street Smart for parents at Anthony Wayne High School on September 5.

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