PHOENIX -- By now, most of Arizona's junior high and high school students are back at school.
Before they are approached to do drugs at a weekend party, Scottsdale-based nonprofit Not My Kid and the Rural/Metro Fire Department are encouraging parents to pick up a free drug testing kit.
Normally, the kits are offered on Apr. 20, because the date 4/20 has become a code word, according to Colin Williams with Rural/Metro.
"[The date has] sort of a cult-like following, which used to mean getting high on marijuana," explained Williams, "Now, the prevalent thing is when kids take prescriptions from their parents' medicine cabinets."
He also added that synthetic drugs, like bath salts, are becoming more common. Working with EMS, he said he's seen the side effects of these certain drugs firsthand.
"This isn't the marijuana of the '60s," he explained. "These are violent, mind-altering drugs that every parent should be super mindful to stay ahead of."
Gilbert Castillo is not waiting for April to find out if his kids are facing drug peer pressure.
"I've been coming to Not My Kid for the past five years to pick up a free drug test kit," he said.
Castillo claimed he never had to threaten his kids he would test them if they did drugs. Instead, he had a heart to heart talk about drugs before it was an issue.
"It gives our kids an excuse," he said.
With the drug test at home, his kids have a solid excuse and can say, "My parents are involved in my life and keeping me accountable."
"That's often what a child needs," said Williams, "Wealthy schools, poor schools, it doesn't matter. Drug dealing is big business...and kids are the target."
Castillo returned to the Not My Kid office on Shea Boulevard, east of Tatum, this week to pick up another drug test for his younger children who are beginning a new school year.
His oldest son is now living proof having a drug test kit at home helped.
"I couldn't be more proud," Castillo beamed. "He's a college sophomore-to-be on academic scholarship...we're very proud parents."
Parents and guardians can pick up a free drug test kit at Not My Kid and other selected locations through Friday. To learn more about the program, visit NotMyKid.org.
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