Youth counselor: Alcohol, marijuana sending teens to rehab at faster rate

(WKRN Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Addiction is sweeping the country and impacting young people every day.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 25 percent of teenagers who use drugs become addicted before they turn 18.

“Drug addiction is chaotic,” said a former addict at Cumberland Heights in northwest Davidson County.

Addiction is becoming far too normal for people, including teenagers.

“Not all of them have gotten to that point, especially the youth, where they could be addicted, but they are definitely on a path,” said Dean Porterfield, Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Services.

There is no doubt in Alex Booth’s mind that he is a recovering addict. Booth is 28 years old now and once was hooked on pain pills.

“Drinking on the weekends, partying, having fun was all that I really cared about, and it’s not realistic to have that kind of lifestyle,” said Booth.

Booth came to Cumberland Heights years ago. He said without their help, he might not be alive today.

“I was on death’s door when I got to Cumberland Heights. I had a very low heart beat from being on so many depressants for so long,” said Booth.

That is a scary reality for many teenagers and young adults.

“I had pretty much given up and I said, ‘Do whatever.’ I’d follow any suggestion,” Booth told News 2.

A report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse says 50 percent of teens have tried alcohol and 40 percent have used some kind of illegal drug by their senior year in high school.

Porterfield said most of the teenagers coming to them are addicted to alcohol and marijuana and headed down a dark path with prescription pain pills.

“We are starting to see teenagers and young adults getting into substances at a faster rate and a more lethal rate,” said Porterfield.

Porterfield said the biggest challenge is making sure teenagers understand the disease and want to get help.

“It’s not uncommon for someone to get to us and have the drug history, substance abuse history of someone that is much older,” explained Porterfield.

That is something Booth said was a huge hurdle for him and others who have hit rock bottom.

“I remember being a teenager and thinking that I had the entire world figured out,” Booth said.

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