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It all started with a couple pills

Charmagne Stevens used to be a bright and charming young girl. When she was younger, she was best described as a shining light with a smile that could light up the room. But as she grew up, the bright and charming girl disappeared and was replaced with something far worse.

No longer was she smiling as much, nor was she talking as much, in many ways, her light had started to fade. She was always alone and seemed as though she had no friends. Her once great relationship with her mother had also started to crumble and she began fighting with her parents more often. Many would say that it is part of growing up, but even long after high school and well into her young adult life, Charmagne didn’t seem to grow out of it, in fact, it only got worse.

At the age of fourteen, Charmagne had developed a drug habit. After her mother had gotten in a severe car accident that nearly left her paralyzed, she was given the powerful narcotic, Oxycontin, for her pain.

Charmagne began stealing the opiates and experimenting on her own. At first, it was a couple here and there, but eventually, she began stealing more and more. Her mother had started to notice her medication disappearing and had tried to hide them from Charmagne, but Charmagne would always seem to find them. Eventually, Charmagne would find a dealer who sold the narcotic and began buying from the black market.

Due to the high cost of Oxycontin, Charmagne soon discovered heroin and within three years and Charmagne had become a full-blown addict.

At the age of seventeen, Charmagne had dropped out of high school, got kicked out of her home and started living on the streets. There, she met a pimp and began prostituting to fund her habit. Charmagne Stevens, the once brilliant and joyful girl, had become another lost soul because of drugs.

This is a sad reality for many young people who have fallen victim to substance abuse. Like Charmagne, many teens start off by experimenting with prescription drugs at a young age and eventually end up finding themselves living on the streets doing anything to find their next fix. 2010–2011 National Survey on Substance Use and Health reports an estimated 16.6% of 25.1 million adolescents in the U.S.aged 12–17 drank alcohol or experimented with illicit drugs for the first time. Teens that initiate substance use before the age of 14 years are at greatest risk for substance dependence and have a 34% prevalence rate of lifetime substance use.

Adolescence is a time of brain development and the inadvertent short-term and long-term biological consequences of drug exposure during adolescence can create harm and a long-term vulnerability to future drug effects. These long-term changes may be at the root of drug abuse problems well into the adult years.

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