Teenage Prescription Addiction: Kolina's Story, Part Two
August 14, 2013
by Beth Carroll
Nearly every child will be offered drugs or alcohol before graduating high school; three out of four will say yes. Most teens see little risk in popping pills without a prescription; and most parents put blinders on when it comes to thinking about their kids and drugs. This is Kolina's story: part two of our series on prescription addiction.
Kolina: I think I was 12 when I first smoked pot. By age 15, I was smoking crack; by 16, I was shooting heroin.
Narrator: In between, she was popping pills.
Kolina: Adderall, Ritalin, Vivans, and Percocets - I don't know all the names of them, because sometimes I would just get handed bags of pills.
Kolina's Mother: She went from a very happy, super happy, bubbly, little girl to….
Kolina: …really depressed, suicidal.
Kolina's Mother: It was a quick, dramatic and rapid change.
Narrator: Kolina turned to drugs when her parents split up.
Kolina's Mother: I think her starting in drugs and stuff was a way to sort of ease some of the pain that she was experiencing in her life.
Kolina: I liked being numb.
Narrator: Kolina soon progressed to harder drugs.
Kolina: I started shooting up when I was 15. I started using needles.
Kolina's Mother: I didn't realize that people were shooting up heroin in the Upper Valley, as teenagers.
Kolina: There came a point when I wanted to stop, and I couldn't.
Narrator: Addiction Specialists say family stress, problems at school, and a desire to fit in are all common triggers for teen drug abuse, which can lead to a vicious cycle of addiction.
Dr. Benjamin Nordstrom/Addiction Specialist: They need the drug because they want to feel good, and if they don't get the drug than they will feel bad, and so, they have to take it for both reasons; and that is when you really see these addictions pick up the pace.
Kolina's Mother: The first thing I had to do was get her help. The question is, where do I get help?
Narrator: That's when she began dialing hospitals and treatment centers.
Kolina's Mother: I had to call about 400 places, making sure somebody would take her. You have to keep pushing until you get the help you need.
Narrator: Kolina entered her first drug rehab at age 15; quickly relapsed when a friend shot himself, and a year later, suffered yet another blow when a girl she befriended suffered a fatal overdose.
Kolina: (playing guitar and singing)…it by your grave and cry.
Narrator: Emotionally bruised and addicted to drugs, Kolina has been in and out of hospital emergency rooms - multiple times.
Kolina's Mother: She's been close to death so many times. As a parent, you don't want to see your child die. I've been in the emergency room; I've been with police looking for her in the woods - not knowing if she was dead or alive - so many times; there's a level of fear that I'm not sure will ever go away.
Kolina: I've lost jobs; I've lost tons of money. I've burned tons of bridges with family and with friends, and umm you know, lost confidence in myself, and lost respect for myself and my body.
Narrator: Kolina has never lasted more than three months in recovery, but she says she takes it seriously now; especially with a baby on the way.
Kolina' s Mother: I've never given up hope that Kolina will be clean, and that she'll be happy; and I feel I would do anything to make that happen.
Kolina: My mom never abandoned me; she always stuck by my side, never left me in the dust.
Kolina's Mother: I think one of the most important things is to not give up hope on them.
Narrator: It's a long road ahead for Kolina and help is scarce. Only one in 10 who need treatment for addiction, receives it.
Dr. David Nierenberg/Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology: I think society has to really think about investing in people, because everybody thinks it's somebody else's problem until it's somebody in their own family.
Kolina' s Mother: Kolina is not alone - there are just lots of kids like her - and when they don't get help, they end up like a lot of her friends, they end up dead. Kolina singing: …..please just open your eyes….strums and out MUSIC UP.
New Hampshire's prescription drug abuse problem is especially alarming among young people. According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control, NH has the country's second highest rate of
18-to-25 year olds who abuse or misuse pills. The most commonly abused drugs by teens: the stimulant Adderall and the pain reliever Vicodin.
Learn more about Kolina's story and teenage prescription addiction in part one of this series, "Generation RX: The New Teen High - What Parents Need to Know."
- Partnership for a Drug-Free America
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse: the Science Behind Drug Abuse
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse: What Are the Common Misconceptions about Prescription Drug Abuse?
- HelpGuide.org: Drug Abuse and Addiction
- N.H. Treatment Centers