Traveling educator helps parents spot drug addiction

WDHN D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A retired narcotics officer who normally tours the country to educate parents about teen drug addiction says the pandemic can stop him from traveling but not from educating.

Joseph Abdalla is the executive director of the nonprofit organization Code 3 Association. He travels the country with a mobile replica of a teen’s bedroom to teach parents how to spot the signs of drug abuse.

Abdalla said signs of drug abuse can be found in all sorts of ordinary itemes that can “open up to reveal a compartment inside.”

But the pandemic pushed Abdalla to offer his course virtually at

“I’ve spoke with a log of parents and they say that if they would have had this before their child became addicted, maybe they could have saved their child,” he said.

Abdall said families who lose teens to addiction later find clues, like tiny pieces of plastic in their vacuum cleaners.

“Same premise as a sandwich bag but when it’s going to be used—the illicit powder in there—the top is either ripped off with the teeth or torn off,” he said.

If you suspect addiction, Abdall said there are many reasons professional help is essential.

“The risk of overdose and the risk of death—it’s one thing to read numbers and statistics, it’s another thing to actually administer Narcan,” said Josiah Haken with New York City Relief, another nonprofit group helping people through addictions. “The stakes are too high to be avoidant or dismissive.”

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