Forget about going to the school nurse for a toothache, a cut or even a headache.
Some clinics at Denver Public Schools are now trying to help kids hooked on drugs.
One of the students is 11 years old.
His substance abuse counselor, Amanda Ingram says he’d seen his mother violently abused. His siblings were hungry. So he started smoking pot to help ease the pain.
“What I let him know is that his feelings are normal… He started to cry and said no one has ever told me that before…. He says I thought I was weird. I thought there was something wrong with me,” Ingram said.
Denver Health and the DPS partnered to set up substance abuse clinics at three schools: Bruce Randolph and North and South High Schools.
Counselors say kids were knocking on their door asking for help almost immediately.
Ingram says they would say, “I'm going tell you something but don't tell anyone -- especially my mom.”
Amanda Ingram has been seeing students at Bruce Randolph School in Northeast Denver since August 2015.
They began sharing some of their darkest secrets in her small office.
“You know what scares me the most... is opiates. What's insane to me is the level of how strong Percocet or Oxy (Oxycodone) is and then they graduate onto heroin and then they start injecting heroin,” Ingram said.
Denver Health counselors say the majority of students they see are smoking marijuana.
Therapy dogs have helped students feel more comfortable. Simple walks along with heart-to-heart chats have also helped many stop smoking marijuana.
"I'm surprised about how many kids we have just coming voluntarily to treatment… there are times we have to say Oh I'm so sorry we can't see you right now,” Christian Thurstone, the Director of Addiction Services for Denver Health, said.
Ingram is currently seeing 20 students, which is the maximum allowed. There are usually five on the waiting list.
“… We need to help change the behavior and figure out what's going on with the student and this is exactly what that program is,” conflict resolution therapist Allison Gunnels said. “ Instead of sending them out, we can say hey, we've got something for you.”
A study at Bruce Randolph shows half of the 35 students currently seeing therapists have stopped using illegal drugs.
The counseling is free for the kids. The programs are funded through grants and Medicaid. Denver Health is hoping to expand the program to other schools.