Some North Texas students recently overdosed on synthetic marijuana. And prescription drugs are popular with younger teens. One group hopes arming parents with free drug kits might help turn things around.
On Wednesday, under a red tent at a Walgreens off Bryant Irvin Road in Fort Worth, little blue boxes worth about $40 each were being given away to parents by an Arizona-based non-profit called notMykid.
“There’s probably no kid who is addicted to pain killers whose parents thought their kids wouldn’t do it,” Dr. Terry McCarthy said.
He works for Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, and is helping notMykid, which has partnered with First Check, maker of home drug tests, to give away 4,000 kits in a dozen cities across the country. Parents, McCarthy says, are sometimes in denial about their kids using drugs.
“They never think that it would be their children,” McCarthy said. “It’s always somebody else’s children, and unfortunately sometimes it is your child.”
Maria Viera, a paramedic with MedStar, stopped by to talk to parents, too. She says she witnesses scary drug overdoses among middle and high school kids.
“In a week’s worth of work for me, which are 12 hour shifts, four days a week,” she said. “I would encounter this maybe three times during that week. And that’s just one out of the many units on the road.”
She’s seen children who intentionally take drugs and those that are victims of an accidental overdose. She’s a parent, too.
“It doesn’t suffice anymore just to let them walk through the door and never have any communication with them,” Viera said.
Another parent, Andrew Jackson, from Bedford, has two sons and a daughter. He picked up several of the free drug kits.
“There’s all kinds of new drugs our kids are using, he said. “You can’t even name them. It used to be cheese. Now they got all kinds of stuff.”
Jackson, who was shopping with his grandson Drew, says he started talking to his kids about drugs at a very young age.
“If we don’t stop it,” he said. “We’re going to kill ourselves from within.”
Fort Worth resident Rob Barrett agrees.
“It’s not the world that I grew up in, OK,” Barrett said. “When I went to high school, you might get your nose bloodied, but nobody ever got murdered for their tennis shoes.”
He’s a grandparent, too.
“Just about everybody I’ve ever known tried drugs when they were younger, because that’s what teenagers do,” Barrett said. “They push limits. They explore the possibilities. Myself included, during those halcyon days of the mid-'60s.”
He agrees that free drug kits can help parents set boundaries and dialogue with their children.
“You can test your children, but with any test you have to have a control,“ Barrett said. “So there are a few false positives, there are some false negatives, and then you have to deal with the trust issue between parent and child.”
If that fails, he says, there’s always grandma and grandpa.