NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodNorthwest Tallahassee


More younger students trying substances, how organizations are working to address this issue

Posted at 10:11 AM, Feb 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-06 07:56:12-05
  • Students are becoming interested in trying drugs and alcohol at a younger age, say local organizations
  • Leon County Schools, law enforcement, Disc Village and Apalachee Center are some of the agencies stepping in with current and new measures to address this issue
  • Watch the video to find out how these organizations are working together and to access resources in our community


Leah Finch knows intimately about the consequences of drug use.

Her son, Kiefer, accidentally overdosed due to the presence of fentanyl in 2022.

"I still wake up and it's not real," said Finch.

Since then, she's been on a mission with her non-profit, Moms Against Meth Makers to make kids aware of the consequences.

"That not even for weight loss, peer pressure, studying," said Finch.

According to the Florida Department of Education School Environmental Safety Incident Report from the last school year, there were several reported incidents of drug use, tobacco, or alcohol in certain middle, high schools, and some elementary schools, across Tallahassee, and in our neighborhood.

Chris Petley with Leon County Schools said they're addressing this with current and new initiatives.

"Continue to invest in program that we hope can make a difference to make sure our kids are safe and they make responsible decisions," said Petley.

He said they work with law enforcement to evaluate incidents on a case-by-case basis.

"Whether it's a civil citation, whether it's a pre-trail diversion program or just getting these students the resources that they need," said Petley.

They also work with external organizations such as Disc Village.

Chelsea Mack is the Prevention Supervisor there.

The have many services directed at substance misuse, including prevention specialists they have in Leon County schools.

Mack said younger students are becoming more interested in experimenting with substances.

"They see someone else doing it, or they see it on social media, and those people are using it and they're fine, so then it's like well I'll just try it," said Mack.

Mack said if the school detects an issue, the prevention specialists will provide guidance and education.

"Make it as fun as possible, we don't want them to feel like we're coming down and lecturing on them," said Mack. "No we're going to sit and just have a conversation, just like you and I are having."

She said their programs build on each other so they're there to support the student through 12th grade.

I meet Dr Jay Reeve with the Apalachee Center who explains how community organizations and law enforcement are working together.

Including their partnership with Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.

"Folks who come to the emergency room with an overdose are identified, treated by, the behavioral health emergency services team that's on the ground at the emergency room, and then they're referred to our peer specialists," said Reeve.

And then with Disc Village.

Following their detox unit, Reeve explained if a patient's primary concern is a behavioral health issue, they will stay in their care.

But if it's substance use disorder, they will connect with Disc Village for their services.

"Any time we can integrate treatment with Disc and TMH, that's what we try to do," said Reeve.

Making help easier to access, and raising awareness.

That's one of the reasons Finch keeps advocating.

"No matter what, not even once, that is our motto, not even once," said Finch.

And she wants families to know there is light in the darkness. She's been blessed with a new grandchild, Kaden Alexander Finch.

If you'd like to support Moms Against Meth Makers, Leah is looking for help via:
For Disc Village
For Apalachee Center