MTV is ready to talk about addiction.
As National Recovery Month officially kicks off today, Sept. 1, the cable network is debuting a new docu-series titled 16 and Recovery.
Filmed at Northshore Recovery High School in Beverly, Mass., the four-part series directed by Steve Liss will allow viewers to follow teenagers working to recover from drug addiction while earning their diplomas. And according to principal and founder Michelle Lipinski, the show aims to spark a conversation about addiction in America's youth.
"We are in the middle of an epidemic and I don't think people understand that it's happening everywhere and nobody is talking about it," Michelle exclusively shared with E! News ahead of tonight's premiere. "It's there, so why not rip off the Band-Aid and show them what real hope looks like? They don't have to live like this. The episodes show there is so much hope out there."
In the limited series, viewers will follow students and families' paths to recovery as they are guided by faculty members and professionals. Each student's individual experience aims to provide a glimpse into the complexities of treatment including healthcare coverage, financial barriers and the difficulties of navigating the judicial system.
According to Michelle, the brave students you will meet are relatable and easy to root for as they try to reach their goals.
"They're just normal kids and you fall in love with them," she shared. "I tell them I love them everyday but you fall in love with them. I could probably name kids in every high school that have the same story. They are not so far-fetched stories. What I really love about the series is that it's done in such a way where it's not exploitive. It makes you really want to know how to help more kids."
For critics or skeptics who may find the topic too personal or simply too much for the small screen, Michelle assures viewers that every parent and student involved was supportive of the process.
In addition, the school's principal argues that the struggle with addiction is a nationwide problem that affects countless neighborhoods across the United States.
"This is happening in every school and every community around the entire country," Michelle argued. "I just happen to want to put a light on it and I have nine brave children who have agreed to put their stories out there for the only purpose of helping other children. That's it."
"That's the only reason they agreed to do this," she continued. "None of them wanted to be movie stars. We didn't know this was going to be on MTV. We thought it was going to be a small film to show people in high school but now it's on MTV and now they have a bigger voice and that's amazing."
As a new school year begins, Michelle hopes the show will spark dialogue between high school students and parents. In addition, Michelle argues that educators should take the time to hear stories from her students.
"I want every teacher to see this because these children are in our classroom," she explained. "I also want this to be a call to action for people who know people who are struggling to talk about it because it's so stigmatizing. People don't talk about it…If you talk about it, you're going to create resources in places that were never there."
And as difficult as addiction can be, Michelle continues to stay motivated in her work because she knows how high the stakes are.
"I thank God that I have what I do everyday. I see hope and I see change and I see transformation," she shared. "A lot of the students come to us with really significant deficits academically and in their recovery and we get to watch them blossom. Their confidence goes up. They are part of the community again. They're productive. That gives me hope."
16 and Recovering airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on MTV.
Join in on the conversation using #16andRecovering. To take action and find resources on substance use disorders and emotional health, visit 16andRecovering.com.