PADDOCK LAKE — As she spoke to a crowd of about 50 parents, Sandi Lybert was armed with a bounty of props.
Lybert, who runs the Oconomowoc-based organization Your Choice to Live Inc., gave a talk, “Wake Up Call,” to attendees on Tuesday at Westosha Central High School.
The Lybert family founded Your Choice several years ago as a response to the dangers heroin and other highly addictive drugs play in today’s culture. Sandi Lybert has been traveling to schools across the region sharing the seemingly unthinkable places drugs are being stashed away — including in teenagers’ bedrooms.
Lybert speaks from experience. Her son, Tyler Lybert, is a recovering heroin addict. He has spoken openly of his addiction and what lengths he went toward to feed his constant craving for the next high.
In the years he was using heroin, Tyler embarked on unorthodox methods to conceal his stash of drugs, and Sandi adamantly points out it occurred without her or her husband knowing it was taking place.
“I never thought it would affect our family,” Sandi said of drug addiction. “It almost destroyed every single part of our lives.”
Your Choice has a number of educational components to it, including an interactive element that gives parents an opportunity to peer into a makeshift teenager’s bedroom to spot the seemingly innocent items that could be used to stash away drugs.
Needles, burnt or bent spoons, rolled up dollar bills, pen cartridges, razor blades and tin foil are a small sample of the many items Sandi said parents should be on the watch for as they comb through their child’s room.
Your Choice has created a handbook, which was distributed at the event, to give parents a glimpse into some of the techniques teenagers have been using to hide drugs in their bedrooms.
“You have the right to your child’s room,” Sandi said. “Unless they pay the mortgage, they don’t have the right to tell you ‘no.’”
As she reflected on some of the circumstances revolving around Tyler, Sandi said she noticed odd occurrences around the house, including the constant diminishing quantity of tinfoil.
“If your gut is telling you something is off, listen to your gut,” Sandi said. “If your gut is screaming, trust it.”
Katie Westerman, a certified K-12 school counselor and educational coordinator with Your Choice, said proactive parenting is a great way to curtail drug use.
“It’s difficult; we weren’t given a parenting manual,” Westerman said. “But we need to have a positive relationship with our kids.”
As teenagers navigate close to adulthood, Westerman implored attendees to stay connected with their children, even if they seemingly feel pushed away.
“Get to know who your kids’ friends are,” Westerman said. “Just as important, get to know who their parents are. What are their values?”