Looking to combat what they say is a noticeable upswing in teen drug use, Grayson County authorities are looking at starting a teen drug court. Though Judge Brian Gary, of the 397th state District Court, said the court is just in the planning stages at this point, a resolution recently approved by county commissioners says the court could be up and running by October.
Grayson County had a teen court for about seven years, but Gary said he noticed that it wasn’t really addressing the problems of the teens with drug issues.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble with the kids who were doing drugs at a young age,” he said. “We had a really hard time getting them through the normal program.”
So, a few years ago, Gary started talking to people about a drug court, and now they are finally moving forward with that opportunity.
“It will be called the RISE Court,” Gary explained that will stand for “Restorative Intervention to Support and Empower.” He added that the name could change before the whole thing ever gets off of the ground.
Grayson County Department of Juvenile Services Assistant Chief Greg Sumpter said the resolution the commissioners recently passed will allow the Grayson County court to apply for state money that was set aside for such things.
And though the details are still a little out of focus, Gary said the court will likely have around eight participants at any one time to allow the staff the time to really concentrate on helping those children and their families navigate the system.
He also said while there might be, at some point, the need to send teens to inpatient facilities, the plan and the hope is to keep them right here in Grayson County and in this community with their families while they learn how to deal with their addictions.
He said the program will absolutely include counseling and drug testing.
“My anecdotal observation is that they are starting younger and younger and the longer you wait to catch it or do something about it, the less chance you have of saving them or avoiding some of those problems,” Gary said.
The courts can’t ship a young teenager off to a treatment facility for 60 days like it can an adult who is not able to work a standard outpatient drug rehab, Gary said. So, this court will have to break it down and include things like counseling to go along with drug testing and other requirements. One big requirement, Gary explained, will be family involvement. He said teens who don’t have a strong family or at least a strong family member supporting them stands less of a chance at getting clean and sober.
Grayson County Juvenile Services Director Lisa Thomlinson agreed and said the parents will be involved in the counseling.
“A lot of times when kids become adolescents, kids start backing off which is really when parents need to be engaged the most,” she said.
Gary said the cases that he has seen in Grayson County show him that marijuana is a gateway drug and that children, sometimes as young as 12-13, who start out smoking it often end up going on to use other harder drugs like methamphetamine. And once they are on meth, he said, getting them off becomes a much bigger fight.
For the upcoming program, Thomlinson said that teens will have to be involved in the system before they can get involved with the teen drug court.
“They don’t have to come in with a drug related offense for the authorities to look into whether or not a drug problem is related to their reason for being in the system,” she said.
What do you think about Grayson County having a drug court for teens? Let Criminal Justice Editor Jerrie Whiteley know by emailing her at JWhiteley@HeraldDemocrat.com.