MIDLAND - On TV, in songs and books, it seems the references to drugs are virtually everywhere. So it shouldn't be a surprise that kids are starting to do drugs more readily. According to a survey, marijuana use among students in Midland has tripled from five years ago.
"That was something that was actually quite surprising in the results," Kim Henderson, Prevention Director with the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, said.
Officials believe especially with the legalization of marijuana in some parts of the country, the perception of drugs has changed. They say smoking is now seen as more casual.
In fact, results show that kids believe their parents are more okay with them smoking marijuana than those surveyed five years ago. Only 86 percent of them said their parents disapproved of marijuana use in 2013 as opposed to 92 percent in 2008. But some organizations are trying to change that.
"People are misinformed about marijuana and one of the things that we here at PDAP and The Midland Coalition are attempting to do is trying to educate the community. That marijuana is harmful. It is addictive. It is a gateway drug," Henderson said.
As for drinking, the study shows kids were smoking and drinking earlier than they did five years ago. The average age is about twelve, as opposed to it being thirteen and a half for smoking and about twelve and a half for drinking back in 2008.
Henderson said the overall increase in drinking is actually among junior high girls. She added that the gender gap among drinking is virtually gone and also that binge drinking is more common than just sampling some alcohol.
"We always discuss drug use. We see the statistics, we see the things like that but it's just truly been in the last couple of months that people have been saying that now this scares them," Midland ISD Superintendent, Dr. Ryder Warren, said.
Along with local organizations, Midland ISD is trying to lead conversations about figuring out whether this perception is true but leaders also suggested taking the discussion home.
"The first thing we need to do is tell parents to talk to their kids. Because if the perception is true, because if we have kids, a lot of kids, who culturally just don't believe there's anything wrong with smoking marijuana, this is not just gonna be a school district issue, it's going to be a community issue," Warren said.