HOUSTON – About two-thirds of students have tried alcohol by 12th grade. About half of ninth through 12th grade students reported ever having used marijuana and 4 in 10 say they've tried cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Going back to class is a particularly vulnerable time for kids to experiment with drugs, according to the Lovett Center in Houston, because students are trying to fit in or they're being bullied and turn to drugs to cope.
Kent Revard said he never caught his son using drugs before his first day of 10th grade.
“[He] showed up to school impaired,” Revard said by that time, his son was already addicted. “He was obviously using drugs pretty regularly and we just didn't, I didn't key in to the, you know, all the signs early on.”
Revard also said his own denial probably did not allow him to see how his son masked emotions with alcohol, pills and pot.
Prevention specialist with the Lovett Center, Xavier Barron, said one of the early signs parents can watch for is lying.
“They said they would be here, but instead they're there. They said they would do this,” Barron listed examples, “Things that are kind of funny that aren't adding up. Those are indicators that something that's not supposed to be happening is happening.”
As students start new school years, with new friend groups, now can be a dangerous time for some kids to be ostracized by friend groups, which is the number one risk factor that leads kids to drugs, according to Barron. While on the other hand, a student’s friend group can be quite toxic, he said. He encourages parents to be active in kids’ school lives and open about communication to help prevent drug use.
“Taking the time to go have lunch with your kid, or you know, there's a lot of programs now like ‘muffins with mom’ or ‘donuts with dad’ and, you know, communicating with their teachers and really keeping a pulse on getting collateral information, not just from your child, but also from the administrators and the students there,” Barron said.
Barron also said adolescents should never get a pass. The first time you find them using drugs or alcohol, an intervention is necessary.
“There's never a wrong reason to see a helping professional. I encourage parents to be proactive rather than reactive.”
Looking back, Revard said the one thing he wished he knew at the beginning of this journey was all the resources available to help his son.
“As a scared parent you're, it's like you're drowning. You don't know what to do or where to turn,” Revard said.
After many times in and out of sobriety, he said his son is in college, but still works on his recovery every day.
Revard said one of his preferred resources is Parents Support Houston.