CBS 6 News Investigation: How teens are hiding heroin use from their parents

Cortney Lovell hid drug use from her parents starting in high school, a full blown heroin addict, stealing to support her habit.

“I was a varsity athlete, I was a cheerleader, there weren't a lot of red flags,” Lovell said.

She was 19, when her parents turned her in.

“They called the state troopers and I was arrested in my kitchen with my parents standing by,” Lovell said.

Laurie Quinn lived through a similar situation. Both of her sons were using drugs as teens, but at first she ignored the signs.

“I found the baking soda, and I said I’m sure it’s in there to make the room smell better, but it wasn’t, it was in there for drug use,” Quinn said.

Now both women help struggling addicts stay sober. They believe if parents are able to identify drug use early, it could save lives.

Investigators with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office agreed to stage a room for us, with items commonly found in the bedroom of a heroin addict

Senior Investigator Christopher Kopek says parents should research what to look for. He says aluminum foil, cotton balls, sandwich bags, tea light candle holders, and even ball point pens, are all commonly associated with heroin use.

Kopek says tiny blue envelopes sold for stamp collecting, are used to package heroin 99 percent of the time.

Another red flag, pieces of electrical cord or even a belt, hidden or left out.

“They’re using it as a tourniquet,” Kopek said.

Kopek says he's found drugs hidden between heavy textbooks, or inside canisters of protein powder.

“A parent that thinks their kids are working out all the time would never look in something like that,” Kopek said.

He suggests suspicious parents check their teen's trash.

“Their garbage cans will be filled with tissue paper with blood stains,” Kopek said.

He urges moms and dads to confront the issue.

“If one day they’re acting strange, ask, don’t take no or I’m fine for an answer,” Kopek said.

Lovell and Quinn say opening the door could be a lifesaver.

“Be suspicious, ask questions, go and look in their room,” Lovell said.

Lovell has been sober since her parents turned her in, almost exactly 9 years ago. She’s now 28, and a mom of two. She sits on the Governor's Heroin Task Force and has worked as an addiction counselor and recovery coach for the last 6 years. The road to recovery wasn't easy, she lost her mom to lung cancer 9 months after she was released from jail. She says she was incarcerated for a total of 5 months.

Quinn's sons have both gone through rehab, she says they are both gainfully employed and are living in transitional housing in Florida

The women say their stories prove addicts can go on to have successful, healthy lives, once they get help.

Cortney’s full story:

Helpful links for families battling addiction:

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