Harrison Hays would take a couple bottles of water with him to bed each night.

Then the waiting began for the nightly shakes and the cold sweats that saturated his bedding as he tried to battle the urge to ingest more oxycontin.

He took on the fight mostly alone in his parents' Ahwatukee Foothills home because he felt he had already done enough to his family.

While keeping them up at all hours would be nothing new, Hays didn't want to burden them any more.

"I had put them through so much, I couldn't justify asking them to help me in the middle of the night," he said. "It was something I had to do so I took a bunch of water with me and basically waited for it to hit me."

Hays, 17, is 20 months sober after battling an addiction to the prescription drug. He entered Arizona Substance Abuse Program in Mesa as an out-patient and it allowed him to begin a clean life.

Teen addiction to prescription drugs, alcohol and other substances is on the rise, statistics show.

"It is completely out of control," said David Gallagher, executive director of Arizona Addiction Treatment Center in Mesa. "It is rampant and an epidemic. It's a mess in our courts right now. It's in every school from Tempe to Mesa to Chandler to Ahwatukee. It doesn't matter.

"It's a white, middle class problem that is a complete mess."

The 2008 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 2.9 percent of eighth-graders, 6.7 percent of 10th-graders, and 9.7 percent of 12th-graders had abused vicodin and 2.1 percent of eighth-graders, 3.6 percent of 10th-graders, and 4.7 percent of 12th-graders had abused oxycontin for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed

There are several options in Ahwatukee Foothills and the Southeast Valley for treatment centers. A good source in finding a facility is compiled by HopeLinks.net, http://www.hopelinks.net/drug-rehab/teen/arizona.

For Hays, becoming sober wasn't enough to set him completely straight. He was still getting in trouble and heading down the wrong path.

It is why his parents sent him to Horizon Academy in Amargosa Valley, Nev., to complete his transformation.

Horizon is a boarding school that specializes in working with teens who have a history of behavior problems ranging from defiance, anger management, school problems and drug and alcohol abuse.

Canyon State Academy in Queen Creek is a similar facility for a more local option.

Horizon Academy is not a rehabilitation center, but it works on academics, character development and emotional growth.

Placing a child in such an environment isn't easy decision, but some times a necessary one.

"We had to do something," said Cozy Hays, who added that are additional teens that went to Desert Vista currently enrolled in Horizon. "The next step for Harrison would have been jail or worse. It was a great environment for him and the parents are still very involved even though it was far away.

"You have to follow their steps and he comes home with a contract that we all have to agree to and sign."

Hays is re-enrolled into Desert Vista with a new attitude and determination.

"I wasn't making the right decisions in my life," he said. "I wasn't preparing for my future. It was a drastic decision, and I don't regret it at all. It has helped me a whole lot on and off the field."

 

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