clock menu more-arrow no yes

DEA to parents: if your kid has a teddy bear, it's probably for hiding drugs

A new DEA website tries to make parents suspicious about everything their kids own.

Parents, beware: According to a new website by the Drug Enforcement Administration, your kid might be stashing drugs just about anywhere — in an alarm clock, a graphing calculator, highlighters, or even a teddy bear.

Here, for example, is the DEA’s warning about highlighters:

And the warning about the dreaded teddy bear stash:

The advice is well-meaning. It is true, after all, that kids (and adults) can hide their drugs in all sorts of funny places.

But the warnings come off as downright paranoid, cautioning parents about normal everyday objects that many teenagers are bound to own for purposes that are wholly unrelated to drugs.

So the internet has already had a blast with the warnings, mocking the DEA — and pointing out that this website will, if anything, give teens some good ideas.

One of the more serious tragedies in all of this is that, due to the high amounts of stigmatization and paranoia found on websites like the DEA’s, it is genuinely very difficult to find good resources for parents dealing with teen drug use and addiction.

Much of this is political, stoking fear to build support for harsh anti-drug policies. For example, the DEA website, which is supposed to be geared toward connecting parents with “more facts about drug abuse” and “information about treatment and recovery,” lists SAM, a political group that advocates against marijuana legalization, as a resource for parents. The SAM site that the DEA links to, however, has almost no information on drug misuse or treatment; instead, it’s dedicated to anti-legalization messaging, such as a warning that marijuana companies will turn into “Big Tobacco 2.0” if pot is legalized.

The DEA also lists DARE as a resource. While it may be familiar to many, this program has not produced credible results, with various studies showing that DARE failed to significantly reduce drug use among participants. But the program has, conveniently, played into the DEA’s exaggerated anti-drug messaging, like when it falsely claimed in a now-deleted “fact sheet” that marijuana has no medical value, weakens the immune system, and causes insanity and lung disease — all claims that are disputed by the best research. So it gets a prominent spot on the DEA’s website.

The result is parents have to sift through a lot of hyperbole and nonsense, including programs that oppose evidence-based care like medication-assisted treatment, before they can find the right option for kids that may need serious help.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.