At 16 years old, Paige found herself hooked on heroin; at 17, on methamphetamine.
Then a junior at Downey High, she came from a solid middle-class family: mom and dad together, her older sister a model citizen.
They didn't know about her other life -- a life of drugs that began with her desire to please a bad-apple boyfriend.
"Not their little daughter," said Paige, now 19 and a working college student who gave only her middle name to protect the family's privacy. "Mom realized I was losing weight, and skipping school because the school called. But I was the cheerleader, the soccer player, the ballerina -- everything. It couldn't be me. She put it in the back of her mind until I didn't come home one night."
Once healthy, her weight dropped to just 98 pounds. Her hair began falling out, and she fixated on imperfections on her skin.
"I'd pick at them and make it 20 times worse," she said.
Her mother called the police and asked them to intervene. After running away to live with meth cookers, she remembers her dad asking a cop if she was OK after she was arrested in a drug raid.
"And the cop saying he wouldn't have a dog living at that house," she said.
After two trips to rehab -- the second time spending a year in what was supposed to be a 90-day program -- she now has been clean for two years, three months. She works with teens and young adults to fight addiction as part of the Meth Action Team, sponsored by the Center For Human Services, a nonprofit agency in Modesto.
Wednesday night, the team will meet to watch "Crystal Darkness: Meth's Deadly Assault On Our Youth," a 30-minute show scheduled to air on all Sacramento-based TV stations at 6:30 p.m.
It's a show parents and teens should watch together, said Kate Trompetter of the Center for Human Services, one of the sponsoring organizations.
"All the data comes back that mom and dad need to know," Trompetter said, referring to the signs that show their children might be at risk.
The show will cover everything from who is using to the impacts of meth addiction on society, including the destruction of families, criminal behavior and environmental hazards.
County officials, including Sheriff Adam Christianson and Behavioral Health chief Denise Hunt, have assembled a methamphetamine task force to address the problem locally.
The Center for Human Services, through a Friday Night Live partnership, hopes its Meth Action Team composed of teens and young adults can reach children.
Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, the county's alcohol and drug services provider, surveyed 178 people who are in treatment for meth abuse and determined that the average age for first-time meth users in the county is 18. Some users, however, began as early as 8 years old.
Other telling numbers: 68 percent of those admitted into substance abuse programs in Stanislaus County are meth users. The statewide average is 34 percent. And of the 89 drug-overdose deaths recorded here from October 2005 through September 2006, 34 percent involved meth use.
Underage drinking is the county's No. 1 problem, said Ruben Imperial, public information officer for Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Marijuana is next. Virtually all of those in meth recovery said they started with those drugs and progressed.
That's how Paige got started -- drinking, then marijuana, then the prescription drug Oxycontin.
"A friend's mom was selling it," Paige said.
Some friend. Some mom.
It's important to reach children now, rather than treating them -- or burying them -- later, Imperial said.
And it's important to intervene with those who are using.
"We're hoping the TV program motivates people to do something about this," Imperial said. "It's damaging many lives in our community, and we need people to find ways to intervene. If they are having problems or know of someone having problems, call a treatment center, a church. Get help with it."
Paige got help.
Wednesday night, she'll watch "Crystal Darkness," having emerged from it.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2383.