Valley men speak out against teen marijuana use

A 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey found that drug use among young teens is up 16 percent from last year's level of 14.5 percent.

But for those living in the Rio Grande Valley, those numbers are not a shock.

Action 4 News spoke to two men, Nate and Raymond, who said they started smoking marijuana at 12 years old.

They said to kick the addiction has been hard"but something they knew they had to do.

"It ruined my relationship with my family, girlfriends, the girl I was going to marry, said Raymond. It ruined it all."

Peer pressure and easy access are all reasons both men use for every starting to smoke marijuana.

"I got exposed at a really early age--it was around me so I just picked it up, said Nate. The environment, the situations I was in, and the crowds I was hanging out with all contributed to my addiction.

Nate is now going on three years sober and said he is much happier knowing he does not have to depend on drugs to live his life.

"It's hard to stop once you get into that lifestyle, said Nate. You think that's the only way you can go through life---but it's not."

Derek French, a counselor at the Palmer Drug Abuse Center, said one of the first clients he worked with was 11-years-old.

He said what some kids do not realize is the longer you use the harder it is to quit.

"We see a lot of kids that have been using as young as ten or eleven years they're 14 and 15 and are having a hard time staying clean from the substance, said French. Not just from the pressure from friends at school but going through withdrawals and obsessing over the chemical."

It is that dependency that both Nate and Raymond said they do not miss.

Both men have been clean for three years and said they are much happier living a life of sobriety.