By Mikaya Thurmond, WRAL reporter & Hannah Webster, WRAL.com editor

Raleigh, N.C. — Drug recovery experts in North Carolina say they’re seeing children fall victim to the nation’s drug epidemic, claiming lives at an early age.

Research shows that the majority of adults with a substance use disorder started using before age 18.

Even if those teens seek treatment, many times they return to same schools and friend groups, which can lead to relapses.

Drug addiction recovery experts develop Triangle's first 'recovery high school'

Because of the rise, there is a new push to establish so-called “recovery high schools” programs that allow teens to overcome addiction issues while continuing their education.

A local group is creating the Triangle’s first recovery high school – a program where the entire student body is recovering from addiction.

Substance addiction doesn’t discriminate especially not by age, and recovery expert Chris Campau said he knows that better than anybody.

“My very first use was at 12 years old and it was actually due to looking up to an older person who was actually already using drugs and alcohol,” he said.

Campau spent years struggling on the road to sobriety, now he’s dedicating his life to making that journey easier for today’s teens trapped in the same situation.

Recently, he has joined a team that’s hoping to bring the first recovery high school in the area.

Donald McDonald, the executive director of Addiction Professionals in North Carolina, is one of the leaders of the new school development project called “Wake Monarch Academy,” which will be modeled after a school in Boston.

“Having a recovery high school in the Triangle is a game changer. We are going to set adolescents up for success,” he said.

The school will be a place where students can continue their recovery programs and not fall behind in their class work. McDonald said new environments and fresh starts are a key component to recovery.

“When students go back to the environment that they were in before it’s kind of setting them up for failure because they can be triggered not just by other individuals using drugs, but sounds and sights and smells,” McDonald said.

Organizers haven’t decided how much tuition will cost, and they said the only requirement is that it is affordable to save as many lives as possible.

This content was originally published here.

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