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Lowcountry works to increase heroin and opioid addiction treatment and recovery programs

Opioid addiction and overdoses are hitting communities harder than ever, and the victims are getting younger and younger. Thursday night, local recovery organizations came together to keep the issue in the spotlight. (Dave MacQueen/WCIV)

Opioid addiction and overdoses are hitting communities harder than ever, and the victims are getting younger and younger. Thursday night, local recovery organizations came together to keep the issue in the spotlight.

Wake Up Carolina, Ben's Friends and students with the Collegiate Recovery Program at College of Charleston held a special screening of Generation Found, a documentary about a high school recovery program in Texas.

“It affects young people it doesn’t just affect old farts like me, it’s young people too,” said Mickey Bakst, co-founder of Ben’s Friends, a support group for addicts in the food, beverage and hospitality industry.

Nancy Shipman, founder of Wake Up Carolina, wants to bring a similar program to the Palmetto State. She said Hope Academy, a recovery high school in Columbia could open sometime in 2019.

Lawmakers tabled the project earlier this year. It will be the first of its kind in the state. Helping teenagers hits close to home for Shipman. Last July, her 19-year-old son overdosed on heroin.

“We’ve been talking to different schools and different communities,” Shipman said. “We’ve realized there are teenagers as young as 14 or 15 that have acknowledged they need help.”

Isaac Waters knows how hard recovery can be for teenagers. He’s part of the state’s first Collegiate Recovery Program at C of C.

SPECIAL SECTION | Hooked on Heroin

“The first time I was on my way to a treatment facility I was 17 years old and there was nowhere for me to go, there was not one facility that we found that would accept someone who was under the age of 18,” Waters said. “If you foster it early, you can continue this life of recovery.”

Shipman hopes to keep the conversation about addiction and recovery going.

“My hope is in recovery and this is just a testament to it,” Shipman said. “It’s a great feeling. I’m really excited to be a partner in this.”

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