CBS-- This 22-year-old became addicted to opioids when he was in the 8th grade.
A snowboarding accident shattered his leg and a doctor prescribed powerful painkillers.
“It made everything okay for me. By my senior year, I was probably in the bathroom every other period, at least, to do dope.”
Pain pills led to other hard drugs and at least three hospitalizations for overdoses. He's far from alone. New research being presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics finds between 2008 to 2013 the number of ER visits by opioid-addicted patients under 21-years-old jumped from 32,000 to more than 49,000. More than 500 children died in the ER or after hospitalization.
"Our kids are dying. They're dying. And it's awful to see, you know, and to witness."
The data shows about 135 young people are showing up at ER’s every day addicted to opioids. Researchers are calling the situation a 'pediatric public health crisis.'
"This is something that not a lot of people we know about, but people don't know what to do ."
Addiction counselors say drug treatment is critical. This young man is 5 weeks into a recovery program. "It's a good reminder that life is not as important as getting high, there's more important things I've found."
He slowly trying to get his life back in order - one step at a time.