ST. LOUIS - It's an epidemic that's taking lives and destroying families, and as schools start letting out for summer break the potential for drug abuse and addiction in young people is on the rise.
"I was homeless because I had destroyed all the bonds with my family. I had stolen from them. I lied to them about it and kept using," said recovering addict Kaytee Ramsey.
The memories of Kaytee's low point and intentional overdose last December still haunt her.
"I just wanted to die. I was so done with everything," she said.
Kaytee's path to addiction started with alcohol and marijuana when she was just 12. A recent study by the University of Michigan says by the time they reach their senior year, 36 percent of high school students have experimented with weed. And many don't stop there.
"The ones behind it were synthetic marijuana which is about 11-percent. And then your hallucinogens like bath salts. And then it went on to ecstasy and cocaine," said retired Sgt. Mark Whitson with the St. Louis County Police Department.
Prescription drug abuse isn't far behind. The medicines can give a powerful high, but they're expensive. Addicts often turn to heroin because it's cheaper and easier to get. And the consequences can be deadly.
"In the last six years we've seen 1,353 young people in the St. Louis area die from overdose death," said Dan Duncan with the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Addition.
Kaytee says her addiction went unnoticed by friends and family for a long time.
"Not everybody looks like the stereotypical meth head on the street," said Kaytee.
And that, she says, is the danger for parents who think it can't happen to their family.
"It can happen to anybody," she said.
Kaytee is doing well in treatment. She's even shared her story with other high school students to try to keep them from following her path. Her message to young people watching tonight: drug addiction and abuse isn't anything you'd wish on your worst enemy.
To parents, she says try to keep your kids busy over summer break. Boredom can often lead to dangerous curiosity.