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Hidden in Plain Sight

Hosted by: Influence the Choice

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

“Hidden in Plain Sight,” the Communities Talk activity held at Issaquah High School in Washington State, was an interactive exhibit and mock-up of a teen’s room. This event was held at the high school because it was central to our district and encompasses three out of four cities. In this event, parents and community members were able to walk through the exhibit to identify risk factors and protective factors, along with signs that may indicate a teen is using substances. This activity helped parents and community members become aware of certain things to look out for. The second half of the program included how to have open conversations with your child about substance use, the damage done by alcohol and other drugs on the developing brain, and how to set expectations that your child does not use substances. This event was done in collaboration with the Seattle Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the NW High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, local police, youth organizations, and other community-based organizations that we gathered as part of a resource fair. The head of the Seattle DEA discussed how fentanyl is coming into our communities, and an executive director from a local youth counseling association spoke about brain science and how alcohol affects the brain. We also have a positive community norms campaign that says, “You know 88.8% of Issaquah High School District students don’t drink alcohol” as a safe summer message with a positive spin. Press coverage for this event can be found here. 

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

Sample Hidden in Plain Sight set-up

Alcohol and other drug misuse affects our community, as in King County, Washington, more than 1,000 people lost their lives to overdose in 2022. Of that number, 700 of those deaths involved fentanyl. This directly affected the community at Issaquah High School after the death of two high school students due to fentanyl. Following those overdose deaths, our school district now has Narcan on-site and revives students who overdose on campus.

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Which prevention strategy(ies), as defined by SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, best fit your Communities Talk activity?

  • Community-Based Process Strategy - focuses on enhancing the capacity of the community to address AOD issues through organizing, planning, collaboration, coalition building, and networking.
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What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?

  • Hold meetings or discussion groups on alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention.
  • Build coalitions with other agencies or programs to reduce and prevent alcohol and/or other drug misuse.
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Did you accomplish your goal(s)?


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What challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Change in organizational structure or staff
  • This event was a success, despite the loss of a staff member two months prior.
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We found out that having a strong volunteer force was necessary! We asked our services organizations (Kiwanis and Rotary) to volunteer with set up, check in and clean up. 

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What are your next steps?

student looking Hidden in Plain Sight bedroom
  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances
  • Conduct research efforts to learn more about issues in our community
  • Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)
  • We created a virtual version of "Hidden in Plain Sight" to reach more people.
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Organizations that conduct Communities Talk activities often involve other organizations in the planning and execution of events. Please indicate which type(s) of organizations you involved in your activity planning.

  • Faith-based based organizations
  • Law enforcement
  • Youth-led organizations
  • Secondary schools
  • Local businesses
  • State and local government agencies (e.g., public health departments)
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Which of the following best describes the primary audience(s) for your Communities Talk activity?

  • Parents
  • Teachers or other education staff
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

Homeland Security resource table
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk Find an Activity Map

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