Treatment center sees jump in kids battling addiction

MASSENA, N.Y. (WCAX) "My addiction began with alcohol when I was right around 13," the patient said.

WCAX News agreed not to identify anyone in recovery at Rose Hill.

"My addiction right now is opiates," he said.

For background proposes, he's 19 and this is his second time at the treatment facility in Massena focused on adolescent substance abuse.

"So I came back just because I know that Rose Hill really does work," he said.

There are 28 beds at the facility separated into two different age groups, 12-15 and then 16-21.

"A lot of them will report when we're doing their initial evaluations that they started using when they were 9," said Tina Buckley, the program director at Rose Hill.

"It's hard to think of a kid addicted to heroin who still needs to sleep with the lights on, but we see that," said Aron McLaughlin, a family support specialist at Rose Hill.

The facility caters to all kinds of substance abuse but what concerns them is the drastic increase in the number of youth using opioids.

In 2016, about 23 percent of their 12- to 15-year-olds were there for opioid addiction. Today, 32 percent are admitted for opioid use.

"A lot of it is related to peer pressure, a lot of it's related to substance abuse within the family, very much normalizing drug use, it's just a part of life," Buckley explained.

The question that seems so simple but tends to be so hard to answer is how do we stop it?

"I think destigmatizing addiction and being willing to talk about it, being willing to talk about it at school, in the community, in churches, you know, wherever there are people," Buckley said.

The patient said, "People say you need to hit rock bottom but rock bottom? There's not a set rock bottom, you know what I mean? Rock bottom is just when you decide you've gone low enough that you want to start coming up."