Heroin in the Heartland

heroineTonight we look into a drug problem in the valley we’ve told you about repeatedly, but haven’t been able to fully develop, until now. A new study from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health has affirmed our suspicions heroin use is on the rise, and you don’t have to go to the east or west coast to find it. More and more kids and young adults in the valley are taking that step from prescription drug abuse…pain pills…. to heroin. Tonight Valley News Teams Eric Crest sits down with a former user, who’s identity we concealed for his privacy, to hear the story of addiction. We did all of this in an attempt to share his story and help others realize how heroin addiction often starts.

When you hear heroin, you likely think… big city… not here… someone else’s problem. But the abuse starts a lot closer to home than you’d think. A former user who wishes not to be identified, we’ll call him anonymous, explains how he was brought up the right way, “I had a great childhood. I did everything I wanted to do. I played sports and had all the opportunities I could ask for.”

This young man is a college student right here in the valley. Looks a lot like your typical 20-something kid. But somewhere down the road his tale of addiction began. It all began a lot younger than most of us are probably comfortable with.

“When I was 15 I started prescription pain killers.” Says anonymous.

So we had to ask, how easy is it for a teenager to find pain medication? “I tell you what middle school and high school are the easiest place to find prescription medications ever. I mean I would get them free. People would take them from their parents cabinets. There just really easy to find.”

So at the ripe age of 15, his story of addiction begins. He says it’s not that unique, “I told this story before and said I was hooked the first time I tried it,” says anonymous.

Sadly the story isn’t all that uncommon to law enforcement. Pain killers like oxycontin, vicotin, codeine, morphine, and methadone can often times lead to the next step. The other drug in the opiate family.

Cass County Sheriff’s Office Investigator, Joe Gress says he’s heard of the next step process before, “they’ll move to heroin because it has the same effects of a pain reliever but now they’re dealing with something in a whole new league.”

It was the opiates, pain killers, pill abuse that gradually brought this young man and likely some of the nearly 200 thousand others in 2011 to try heroin for the first time.

Anonymous describes the process, and frightening aspect of getting high on heroin, “you find a vein and as soon as you put the needle in and pull back and see blood…. You know you’re in. And that’s one of the most addicting parts is the needle you know. Watching the blood come back you know you’ll feel good in five seconds. All of a sudden your whole body is like whoooooosh.”

While abuse of prescription pills for pain was reported to be going down in 2011, according to the national survey on drug use and health. Heroin use was reported to be increasing.

Anonymous understands the two drugs relationship quite well, “it’s pretty similar to be honest. some of those pain pills are just. it’s unbelievable man. it’s how powerful they are and how easy they are for kids to get.”

Investigator Gress, understands the similarities too, “you want that same effect and you want something to replicate that. and a lot of times it’s heroin.”

Without a doubt heroin didn’t just make it to the valley. But it’s presence is prevalent according to anonymous,”actually when I moved to the valley, that was when I found heroin more.”

Heroin has always been here but it’s just recently that drug counselors in the valley are starting to really see it’s reach. Beth Brantner, the lead counselor at Lost and Found Ministries in Moorhead says,”here I am mostly seeing moms who are saying my son is on heroin and I feel like I have to make plans for a funeral. Because it’s going to happen in the not so distant future… What do I do?”

Anonymous says it’s a stretch to say that heroin use has ties to it’s stereotypical origins, “it’s not like it is on TV. It’s not a certain group of people who will have problems with it. It could be anyone. A college student, business man. All you gotta do is try it and that could be game over.”

But it’s not game over for one young man from the valley. After two stints in rehab, the highs and lows of recovery, and the attitude that he didn’t have to become a statistic. He’s clean today and shared his story so moms, dads, teens, and young adults can know that the problem with heroin in the valley can absolutely be beat.

“It’s been the hardest experience of my life.I’m just now starting to see myself as a person rather a junkie. And it’s six months later and there’s been slip ups. But it doesn’t control my life anymore.” Say anonymous. Article Link…

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