AVON LAKE, OH (WOIO) - It's been four short years since "Alexis" graduated from Avon Lake High School, and already she's lost close to a dozen classmates and friends to heroin.
"Since I've been out of rehab, I've known ten people who have overdosed and died from heroin," said Alexis.
Alexis didn't want us to use her full name. She was introduced to heroin in high school, but her addiction to drugs and alcohol started much younger.
"I started using sophomore year of high school I'd say, like the hard stuff. I started drinking and stuff in seventh grade," said Alexis.
Sadly, Alexis's story is just one of too many that are part of a growing heroin epidemic.
"It's bad really everywhere around here now. It's bad in Westlake, Bay, really anywhere around here it's getting really bad," she added.
Alexis's mother felt helpless.
"I knew something was going on. I did not know, what, I did not know the extent of it. I think I was more so in denial. I never imagined that it was heroin," said Lisa Taylor.
Most parents don't. That's where Drug Test kits come in.
In Lorain County, parents have a powerful tool at their fingertips that can help them tell whether their child is using.
For $10 they can get a home drug test kit through their school or through an organization called Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, or "LCada."
"If you are questioning yourself. If you don't want to do it, but think you should, you probably should," said Joel Reichlin of LCada.
LCada works directly with more than half a dozen schools including Avon Lake High School to provide support and to try and combat the heroin crisis.
"At the high school level, it's definitely worse than it has ever been before," added Reichlin.
Alexis was one of the lucky ones who got treatment and turned her life around.
There was a key moment that made her want to stop.
"I was hanging out with my brother, and I was high out of my mind and messed up. He told me he did not like me anymore, and he did not like the person I became, and it just really struck a nerve, and I was like, 'what am I doing?'" described Alexis.
Her mother never drug tested her, but Alexis says it may not have mattered.
"There's only so much that parents can do. You've gotta want it on your own in order to really stop," said Alexis.
There is a happy ending here. Alexis is now married and the mother of two small children. Now she tries to help others, knowing that the reality is, she has probably not lost her last friend to addiction.
"It's sad, and I hate it. It's part of the disease. It's one of the things that keeps me going because I don't want to be one of those people," Alexis added.