Crimewatch: Teen Drug Use - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Crimewatch: Teen Drug Use

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Juvenile crimes are up Travis County and a recent report states that half of those cases are drug related.

The U-S Department of Health and Human Services also says more than half of those cases are drug related.

Kevin Tijerina says his 15-year-old son was lucky he was never arrested but he did take drugs.

"What we found at home is Tylenol 3's with codeine," said Tiierina.

The father of three says he and his son got through the ordeal with the help of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program. Unlike rehab, this program is free.

The 15-year-old has been sober for more than a year now. Tijerina says "I love him. I loved him even when he was raging at the house and punching holes in the wall."

Luke Plourde, 18, is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.

"I'm not the same Luke when I do drugs, I turn into a monster,” Plourde said. “Once I start doing drugs, I will do whatever I have to do to get more. I will steal from you, I will go behind your back, I will cheat you, lie to you."

Plourde says he started smoking pot his freshman year but eventually moved on to hard drugs.

"Right around the time when pot became an everyday thing, that's when I sort of started experimenting with other drugs, pain pills, Xanax, pain killers like Oxycotin and then around that same time, I got into more party drugs like Ecstasy and a little bit of Cocaine.

"My real downfall was hallucinogenics, acid and mushrooms."

Luke even started to deal drugs and make serious money.

"It got dangerous for me when you start dealing with people that are dealing with pounds of marijuana, bags and bags of pills.

"I remember when I was like 16, going over to the east side like at two or three in the morning and there's gang bangs going on all over the place, just convenience stores being robbed, not a good place for a 16-year-old to be."

The high school senior says he wants parents to know that drugs are everywhere in Austin.

"Oh, much easier than getting alcohol. Oh, I mean, streets of Austin, Texas, getting marijuana, it's ridiculously easy and other drugs are not far off."

The high school senior from Round Rock has relapsed a few times. His latest sobriety has lasted a few months.

The 18-year-old also gets support from the Palmer Drug Abuse Program.

Luke has never been arrested. He is lucky. More than half of juveniles arrested in Travis County have substance abuse issues.

“We have a problem and anybody who says we don't have a problem isn't looking around, they're not seeing their community,” said Roger Wade with the Travis County Sheriff's Office. "When you're on drugs or alcohol as a child, you know you're breaking the law, at that point, making that next step is so easy, like putting one foot in front of another."

Dr. Lori Holleran Steiker, a juvenile addiction specialist,  says these days, kids are trying drugs at a younger age. Holleran Steiker says she is hearing young users say marijuana is no big deal.

Dr. Holleran Steiker says that the kids she does research with often express, Marijuana is all over the place but we don't really consider that a drug. Its not very serious. Steiker adds, "As we do know, there are kids who wind up in treatment because of their inability to stop smoking marijuana so there are a lot of steep myths about marijuana being benign."

The addiction specialist says one of the mistakes parents make, allowing children to drink or use drugs at home.

"Because they can do it under their supervision,” Steiker said. “I think that's a really dangerous stance to take, especially if kids are coming home with their friends. I think it's an illusion that one can supervise closely enough to prevent the serious downsides and consequences for these young people."

Prevention starts with something we have all heard, talking to our children. However, Dr. Holleran Steiker says the key is having an honest conversation, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

For more information on the Palmer Drug Abuse Program go to pdapaustin.org .  or call 512-927-0422.

Dr. Lori Holleran Steiker can be reached at lorikay@mail.utexas.edu.

Follow Jenni on Twitter@jennileefox7.

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