Augusta, GA (WJBF) – Prescription drugs are suppose to help you heal…..but in the wrong hands, they can destroy a life and future.

In Columbia County the numbers are rising and teenage girls are the biggest consumers.

Kimberely Scott takes a closer look in this Newschannel 6 Special Report.

High School years are suppose to be some of the best years of our lives, but for a high percentage of students, opening a medicine cabinet and taking pills found inside could send their lives on an unexpected path.

Sylvia “It can start out fun and you may not think that it can be a problem, but that’s how it starts.”

Nicholas, “It allowed me to fit in with people, it allowed me to feel like I was apart of…”

Sylvia and Nicholas both started using alcohol and drugs while in school.

Sylvia’s struggles started in college, and as for Nicholas his started while at Greenbriar High School.

Nicholas, “it really got to a point that it wasn’t really a decision anymore – it was what I needed to do in order to feel ok with myself.”

70 % of high school students try alcohol, half have taken illegal drugs and 20 % take prescription drugs for a non-medical purpose. (-national institute on drug abuse)

Julie, “so the national trend is that the fastest growing group of users is 18 to 25 year old white females.”

Julie Miller is the Executive Director of Columbia County Community Connections. She says in many cases it’s easy for a teenager to get their hands on prescription drugs.

Julie, “There is a prescription bottle in the cabinet that’s for the Percocet you had when you had your wisdom teeth out and you left them sitting there…the young person knows that somebody will pay good money for that or they know that they’ll be popular at the next party if they bring those.”

It is the opportunity to make money, feel a certain way or even influence the way people see you that can open the door to a life time struggle.

Sylvia, “My body relied on it, I didn’t feel normal unless I had a drink or a drug.”

Paige Miller is the Development Director at Hope House. It’s a treatment facility for women in Columbia, Richmond and Burk Counties.

Paige, ” most of the women that we serve have used alcohol and drugs before the age of 18 and their brain has literally formed around it and that has been their coping mechanism.

While adolescent brains are still forming, prescription drugs like Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Loratab or even heavy drinking can affect their decision making process and research shows that in some cases will power is not enough to stay clean.

Julie, “substance use is a brain disease and drugs hijack the brain and a developing brain especially will change as a result of using drugs.”

It can also affect the friends they hang with, school participation, grades and even attitudes.

Paige, “and often what we hear from parents to is she seemed so depressed we don’t know what’s going on, that can be normal teenage hormones, or young adult adjustment or it can be alcohol and other drug use or mental health concerns.”

Because of addiction Sylvia eventually ended up in a homeless shelter and Nicholas choose to sleep in his car. Both eventually found the help they needed to put them on the road to recovery.

Sylvia, “my best day when I was out drinking and using, does not compare to my worst day sober.”

Sylvia successful completed the recovery program and now works for hope house, helping other women find their way out of the grips addiction.

Nicholas works for a group called “Young People, Recovery Augusta,” he conducts life skills workshops for people right out of prison.

Addiction may send your life on a detour, but it doesn’t have to end it… is available if you want it.

Research shows that friends and family are the source of 70% of drugs that are abused. So how do we combat that….well by turning in unused prescription drugs to participating pharmacy’s and some police stations.