PHOENIX -- It's been code for drug use for decades. This Friday, April 20, aka "420," kids across the country will be doing drugs, some for the first time. A former addict has a warning about 420.
"The first time I got drunk was just after my eighth-grade year, so again 11, 12 years old, somewhere in there," Olivia Johnson said. "By the time I got to my senior year, I was using heroin with people that I had never imagined myself being involved with."
"I had no idea anything was going on until I started getting calls from the high school saying, 'Olivia didn't show up for school today,'" said Johnson's mother, Becky Shennan.
Johnson was a popular student and star athlete until her drug use became all consuming.
"Varsity field hockey out the window, student council out the window, the good friends that I had out the window," Johnson said.
Now 29 years old, Johnson has come to terms with the fact she'll never get her high school years back.
"I did have to go into rehab, drop out of high school, miss my prom, miss walking with my class at graduation," she said.
As for 420, Johnson remembers, "We would skip school, we'd all go to some person's house, of course we'd all be using all day long but we'd wait until 4:20 p.m. on the clock and totally smoke out and get high and, yes, it is a big deal."
"Parents need to be aware of this culture," said Debbia Moak, founder of Not My Kid.
To give kids an out when faced with peer pressure to use drugs, NotMYKid is handing out free drug testing kits on Thursday, April 19.
"It's an acceptable way for a kid to say, 'Gosh I'd like to do that with you but I can't. As soon as my mom finds out I'm smoking pot or using those pills, I'm busted and you'll be busted, too,'" Moak explained.
The kits test for 12 substances and within minutes, you get the results. It's a tool Shennan wishes she had years ago.
"I was determined she wasn't using so having that drug kit would have given me that chance to prove I was right, only to find out I was wrong," Shennan said.
Johnson is now clean but admits her addiction will always haunt her.
"I'm sad that all the people I went to high school with all still think that I'm a drug addict," she said.
Free drug test kits will be available on Thursday, April 19, at two locations: Not MY Kid headquarters at 5230 E. Shea Blvd., Suite 100, in Scottsdale, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Rural Metro Southwest Ambulance headquarters, 708 W. Baseline Road, Mesa, from 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
In addition to the drug-testing kits, counselors will be on hand to answer questions.
For more information about NotMYKid, visit www.notmykid.org.