DCPS offers programs for substance abuse

Students are consuming prescription pills, alcohol and recreational marijuana

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School District is advising parents and students to be prepared for school -- including knowing what to do if they find out their child is giving in to peer pressure, and experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

Some of the drugs many local students are consuming are prescription pills, alcohol and recreational marijuana.

DCPS has a number of programs and partnerships designed to help with the issue.

News4jax profiled one of the programs right after its launch last year. From early education about substance abuse, to treatment and recovery. Students and their parents/guardians need to know that options are out there, and they can get help.

Marcy LaVine with the school district says students and their families need reasonable access to help.

"The need is there. The need is there for all people, but especially for teens," Marcy LaVine.

LaVine works with the Nighttime Substance Abuse Program, which meets every week at Sandalwood and Lee High Schools. The group's focus is early intervention and education for students and parents. Sometimes, that alone is enough.

"It's really important to get accurate information to both the teens and their parents about the dangers to a developing brain," said LaVine.

Though, for students in recovery, being back in the classroom isn't necessarily a good thing.

At the River Oak Center, kids continue their education in a traditional classroom setting, without actually being in a regular school. Dan Renaud is the executive director and says putting a child back in school too early can lead to relapse.

"About 80% is the number we think will relapse in the first year. Coming to our school kind of flips that number on its head," said Renaud.

But other children need more intensive treatment. Through the district's partnership with Gateway Community Services, these children live at the center. They receive therapy, while also completing classwork. No matter what your child's need is, parents are advised to act fast.

Programs offered 

Marcy LaVine- Nighttime Substance Abuse Program

  • Free to families
  • early intervention--education-focused
  • Meets Tuesday and Thursday throughout the school year from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Two locations--Sandalwood High School and Lee High School
  • Families can choose which ones they want to go to
  • The substance abuse program gets students two ways
    1. volunteers from families concerned their students may be experimenting with these substances or hanging around people who are; getting information
    2. also students who've had a code of conduct offense involving drugs or alcohol; for those students, the class is a requirement.
  • Assists around 500 families a year

To learn more about the class and how to get started, people can call LaVine at: 904-390-2268. Or they can call: 904-910-5108.

Dan Renaud- Executive Director of Florida Recovery Schools, which operates at River Oak Center

  • River Oak Center launched last year. It started with two students, but grew to about 35. On a given day, they served roughly 18.
  • This program is the only one of its kind in the southeast.
  • Duval County Public Schools supplies all of the academics.
  • The students have substance abuse issues, including drugs and alcohol.
  • Through this program, the students continue their education in a traditional classroom setting once they've been stabilized. The difference is, they're not actually in a regular school.
  • Renaud says oftentimes, putting a child in recovery back in school too early can cause them to relapse in the first year. He says the statistic stands at about 80%.

To learn more about the program, you can call: 904-864-6463.

Steve Bauer-  Director of Adolescent Services with Gateway Community Services

  • D-C-P-S provides the education component.
  • The students live at the center and receive more intensive treatment.
  • Bauer says most of the students who take part in the residential treatment are about a year or two behind in their education due to their substance abuse.
  • They take classes every day, and get one-on-one help.
  • About 8 to 10 students per teacher.
  • Right now there are about 18 students participating. That number goes up as the school year moves forward.
  • Last year, they serviced about 160 students.
  • Over the last few years, Bauer has seen the experiment age drop from 12 or 13, down to 9 or 10.
  • Also provide out-patient treatment
  • Children are assessed based upon their need

For more information or to schedule a drug evaluation, call 904-387-4661 ext. 1320.

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