COBB COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) Cobb County has rolled out a new mobile resource to help educate parents about drug use.
The COPE House – or Cobb Overdose Prevent Effort – is a trailer containing a mock teen bedroom and bathroom. Parents can walk through it to learn about dozens of different signs of drug use and addiction. To make it as effective as possible to teach parents, nobody younger than 18 is allowed inside.
It’s a collaboration between Cobb County and the Davis Direction Foundation. Justin Jackson with the Davis Direction Foundation leads the tours and shares his own experience with parents. He is a former meth and heroin addict now three years clean.
“I have tons of parents, tons, that come through here and they would just never, ever in a million years would have thought this is where their kid would put stuff,” he said.
He shows parents where their kids might be hiding items that indicate drug use and even educates them on how certain things in the room might show an interest in the drug culture. He encourages parents to start a conversation, ask questions and show support, rather than accuse.
“What I try to teach people is the best possible practice is to say, ‘Hey look this is something I’ve noticed, this what I’m seeing and I’m concerned,’” he said. “As much as you can come at this from a standpoint of support, stay away from accusations because as soon as you start accusing, everyone goes on the defensive, that is a human nature thing.”
Jackson said drug use is something that can affect each and every community.
“There is no race or economic class that’s going to be exempt from this, the only thing you might see from that is the type of drug being used,” he said.
Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott learned about the initiative in Harford County, Maryland. Using drug seizure money, he helped bring it to Cobb County and county staff outfitted the trailer to make it look just like a child’s room. Cobb County has some of the highest overdose deaths in the state.
“The county needed to do something,” he said.
The COPE House is just part of Cobb County’s dedication to fighting the opioid crisis.
“The really great part is watching the parents’ reaction,” said Ott. “We’ve given some tours already and when they come out of there they’re just really wide-eyed going, ‘I had no idea or I didn’t know,’ so I think we’re kind of getting the message across.”
He has seen different reactions from parents.
“The most eye-opening is the fact, number one, is they just had no idea that kids could be so inventive but I think some of them are a little bit in denial that there’s a problem,” said Ott.
You can request the COPE House make a visit to your group or organization for free. Learn more about requesting it here: www.cobbcounty.org.
It will be open for tours Thursday, April 11 at an event hosted by the Davis Direction Foundation. A symposium called Solutions to Substance Use Disorder: A Countywide Approach is being held at Marietta First United Methodist Church 7-9 p.m. and the COPE House opens for tours at 6 p.m.