Drug-addicted teenage girls will move into a residential drug treatment facility on Monday, marking the official opening of Ottawa's first youth residential drug treatment centre.

Teens who've battled addiction say the centre is a step in the right direction.

"I wish I could go to every one of them, to people I know suffering from addiction, and pick them up and bring them to places like this," said Laura Brown, a recovering addict who left home for life on the streets when she was just a teenager.

Brown quickly became estranged from her family and couldn't lead a normal life.

When she was ready to get help, she enrolled in the day program at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre on Bronson Avenue.

"I was an athlete. Now I have that back and I live at home. I have a beautiful relationship with my parents and sister and I'm going to college in September."

Longtime coming

After 20 years of lobbying for a residential drug treatment centre, Dave Smith says Ottawa will finally be able to offer youth the kind of consistent treatment they need.

"It was quite obvious we needed a residential treatment centre in this city," said Smith, who helped bring a day program for drug-addicted youth to the capital in 1993.

Until now, teens were forced to move outside the Ottawa-area for residential drug treatment.

"It always was a bone in my throat that we're putting this youngster back on the street and hoping he doesn't do anything to himself until he comes back the next morning," Smith told CTV Ottawa on Thursday.

The new 10-bed facility on Carp Road will offer recovering teens consistent counselling, schooling and two years of care when they complete their three- to six-month stay.

Teens at risk

It's estimated 18,000 youth in Ottawa are at high risk of drug and alcohol abuse. They don't come from specific backgrounds. Rather, drugs can become problems for teens of all walks of life.

"I was someone highly respected in my school and then it just crashed down, so you don't see it just from looking at someone," said Hayley Ford, a recovering addict.

Although the facility on Carp Road is only for girls, teenage boys can access residential treatment at the Alwood Treatment Centre in Carleton Place. Over the next few years, there are plans to build a co-ed centre.

Smith said it's important to remember that although people can come crashing down, they can also be lifted back up.

"When they get their life turned around, they go back to school, they go back to university, whatever the case may be, I tell you, it's such an incredible success story."

With files from CTV Ottawa's Alyshah Hasham