Women who are now in treatment at the Amethyst House remember the first time they tried drugs or alcohol.
“I first started about 15 – experimenting with marijuana and alcohol,” says one.
“My first use was alcohol, and I was 13,” says another.
The Amethyst House is a recovery program focused on women with drug and alcohol issues.
“I would drink. I would get high on cocaine at night. Six or seven o'clock in the morning, I'd take the xanaxes to bring me down. Then I would do the pain pill for the energy. It was just a constant cocktail of disaster day after day after day.”
Their stories reflect a change in our society. Counselors say they've seen a change statewide over the past three years in who is getting hooked.
In the past, the average population would have been around 35. Now, the population is younger.
Ginny O’Keefe is the CEO and one of the founders of the Amethyst House treatment center. She says the population is millennials, between the ages of 18 and 23.
“They're just babies. They're really hard to engage,” said O’Keefe.
Ohio's Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services reports just over 28 percent of new admissions in the last couple of years are for opiate addictions, compared to just over 7 percent in 2001. And there is a 200 percent increase in women entering treatment for opiate addiction since 2004
Therapists and counselors say the key to engaging them and breaking through is to confront the traumatic issues that may have triggered the drug use. For many of these young women that includes depression, sexual or physical abuse.
"In my early 20's I lost a child and that put me into a really deep depression, and so I began to use opiates,” said Allison.
Allison says it wasn't long before she turned to heroin and was eventually charged with drug possession and locked up.
“They put me in jail and told me to wait until rehab,” she adds.
She says that day was the “best day ever.”
Allison describes is as "lifesaving" and the beginning of her fight through addiction in Amethyst's intensive long-term program which includes a sober housing community of other families and resident managers who are available around the clock.
“I’'m able to be a parent to my children, they live with me. I go to school at Columbus State. I see a future I never even thought was possible, relationships with my family-- they trust me,” says Allison.
She says she is now focused on that future and remaining drug free.