By Jen Kastner
PERMIAN BASIN- We're at the tail end of Red Ribbon week, a national anti-drug campaign with a heavy presence in the Basin. NewsWest 9 met up with local anti-drug leaders to see what kinds of problems are teens our facing right now, and some of what we heard, was alarming. Pill parties are still very much alive in the Midland-Odessa area and kids as young as nine years-old are going into therapy for drug abuse.
Midland Palmer Drug Abuse Program's (PDAP), Mario Flores, explains, "Kids go to a house or to a yard and they just get a big bowl and throw in whatever pills they have and they just take whatever they grab."
According to PDAP, these pill parties are happening in the Basin and they're probably occurring more frequently than we can even track.
PDAP's Executive Director, Brent Blackburn, says, "Marijuana use and prescription drug use are both up in the Midland-Odessa area. The average age they are starting [to use in] our community is twelve years-old and that's young and that number is going down which is not way we want to see that number go."
In light of Red Ribbon week, PDAP and other community groups are spending the week talking to thousands of Basin kids.
"[We're] teaching kids how to say 'no' to drugs and [we're] teaching them refusal skills and we're just making them aware," Blackburn said.
PDAP alone is reaching out to more than 3,000 students, mostly speaking with the elementary-level kids.