Peter Fluor (’07) shares experience with substance abuse


Claire Seinsheimer

Fluor (’07) spoke to the Upper School about his experiences with addiction.

After finishing a lacrosse practice in his freshman year, an upperclassman invited Peter Fluor (’07) to smoke weed with him. According to Fluor, this became one of the first experiences he recalled of being accepted and finding “friends.”

On Oct. 16, Fluor, the current president of Driftwood Recovery Center, spoke to students about his battle with cocaine and heroin addiction and the all-encompassing effects it had on his life.

Fluor’s many insecurities caused him uneasiness. As an undersized, 120-pound, 5-foot-4 freshman, Fluor often felt self-conscious of his appearance and judged by classmates. In order to calm his nerves, he resorted to coping strategies such as drinking and smoking weed. Fluor felt that he had found a solution to his issues because he could block them out of his mind, and so he started frequently seeking out these substances.

“I started to find external solutions to problems inside of me,” Fluor said at the assembly. “Those did not actually change the way I felt; they did for a second, and then it was gone.”

He said he earned fairly good grades at St. John’s, obtained Eagle Scout credentials, participated in community service and scored well on the SAT — his life on paper seemed well-balanced and accomplished. But internally, he felt that his life was “collapsing.”

While Fluor only began to experiment with alcohol and marijuana in high school, he explained that his insecurities and problems began much earlier. Flour grew up in River Oaks and attended St. John’s from kindergarten through his graduation. After graduation, Fluor attended the University of Southern California, where he was exposed to much more severe drugs, including cocaine and heroin.

“You don’t realize it, but you are a part of many communities at St. John’s. Whether on the athletic fields, in the classrooms or through extracurriculars, people look out for you,” Fluor said. “At college, I felt alone because I was no longer surrounded by people who loved and cared about my well-being.”

Having known Fluor as her son’s friend, Community Service Coordinator Marci Bahr always thought of him as an outspoken high school kid; she never realized the problems with which he wrestled.

“His raw and candid talk about his experiences was a wake-up call and made me realize that we all walk uncertain paths during times in our lives,” Bahr said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the person that Peter is now. He has committed himself to leading a clean and sober life and is dedicated to helping others.”

Throughout his struggle, Fluor said he never took into perspective the money his parents devoted to his education nor the opportunities that his education provided for him. After barely graduating from USC with a business degree, Fluor began his career at a startup in Houston, where he said he would shoot heroin at work multiple times a day.

Fluor’s father, a successful business man, led a clean life and managed to provide for his family.

“There was an unconveyed pressure that I placed upon myself to follow in the footsteps of my dad,” Fluor said. “I internalized everything, and the drugs mitigated my feelings.”

Fluor struggled to find a healthy, effective way to alleviate his pressures and turned to unhealthy methods. Upper School counselor Ashley Le Grange stressed the importance of using coping mechanisms such as meditation or counseling sessions for those suffering from anxiety and mental health conditions. While some people are predisposed to addiction, most experience stress, and it is important to learn about different ways to relieve it.

“People need to understand that addiction affects people of all backgrounds and all ages,” Le Grange said. “Stress affects everyone as well, and if people are not educated on how to cope with it, drugs and alcohol can enter the picture as a coping mechanism.”

One of Le Grange’s missions is to change the negative connotations of treating mental health issues.

“We need to be rid of the stigma surrounding important conversations about drugs and alcohol so that people know it is okay to ask for help, which the School is actively doing by bringing in presenters and speakers like Peter, the Freedom from Chemical Dependency organization and others,” Le Grange said.

Fluor said he lost control of his life when he no longer knew what his guiding principles and precepts were. His drug abuse came to a halt once his family intervened and placed him in a rehabilitation center to save his life.  

“It was at that point that my life changed,” Fluor said. “My heart opened up to other people helping me.”

Fluor shared the core precepts that now guide his life and aid him in voicing his problems to people. Rather than hiding his feelings and resorting to toxic coping methods, he reaches out to people for support.

While people often prioritize their career over taking time to connect with others, Fluor emphasizes the need to be part of a community.

“You have two things you can do each day: ask for help from the community if you are struggling, or lend a hand to someone who might be having trouble,” he said.

Through Fluor’s struggle in which he never felt secure enough to ask for help, the unifying strength of the St. John’s community became even more clear to him.

“It is essential to share your emotions,” Fluor said. “It is okay to struggle. Growth happens in moments of adversity; it is crucial to be a member of the community.”