Teenage years can be an exciting time for growth and learning, but it can also be one of the most difficult. As they try to find their place in the world, they face pressures of changing times, changing norms, and never ending peer pressure. It is often at this time where they may start to experiment with drugs and alcohol. The average age of first use for marijuana is 14 and alcohol can start as early as 122. Teens start using for a variety of reasons such as boredom, depression, curiosity, stress, and/or peer pressure2.

Adolescents are very talented at hiding what they are doing and there are many products available at home, in stores, and online that help with this process. These items usually look like ordinary household items that are often undetected by parents. Below are a few examples of items that are most used to conceal illegal drug or alcohol use:

  • Dryer Sheets: These can be used to mask the smell of marijuana on clothing, when smoking or storing3.  These can be placed in the air vents of a bedroom or bathroom.
  • Custom Cans: There are numerous containers on the market with false bottoms or middles that can be used to store drugs. These can easily be purchased online and tend to look like everyday products like shaving cream and soda bottles3.
  • Sports Drinks and other colored and flavored drinks: Clear alcohol can easily be mixed with these and brought undetected to events3.
  • Sploof: A sploof is a homemade filter used to mask the smell of marijuana. These are usually made out of an empty toilet paper roll and dryer sheets. There are many YouTube videos that show how these are made3.
  • Homemade Smoking Pipes: These can be made out of many objects, including an apple or a soda can3.  
  • Drinking Game Paraphernalia: Items such as ping-pong balls or solo cups can be an indicator of alcohol use3
  • Flasks: These are available in many different shapes and sizes, including hairbrushes, lotions bottles, and tampon cases3.   
  • Purple Drank or Lean: This is a slang term for a mixture of cold medicine,  soda, ice and hard candy. The cold medicine usually contains promethazine and codeine and the effects of the drink last anywhere from 3-6 hours3.

Unfortunately, this is not a complete list of all the items that can be hidden in plain sight in any teenage room; there are many, many more. Parents, please be aware and make yourself familiar with these items. As always talk to your children about the dangers of substance abuse.


  1. AACAP (2018) Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. March 2018 . https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Teens-Alcohol-And-Other-Drugs-003.aspx
  2. Drug Abuse. Teenagers and Drugs: 11 Real Reasons Why Teenagers Experiment. Drug Abuse. https://drugabuse.com/11-real-reasons-teenagers-experiment-drugs/
  3. Power to the Parent. Hidden in Plain Sight. Power to the Parent.org. http://powertotheparent.org/be-aware/hidden-in-plain-sight/