Picture of Teen Heroin Use

Heroin use is on the rise among teens, largely due to widespread prescription opiate abuse. Many teen addicts graduate from abusing opiate pills like Oxycontin, to using heroin, which may be cheaper and easier to obtain. A survey by the US Department of Health and Human Services indicated that by 2007, when choosing to use an illicit drug for the first time, 57,000 more teens chose prescription pills over marijuana. This is especially alarming because it changes the status of marijuana as “the gateway drug,” by instead moving teens faster down the path by beginning with opiate abuse rather than ending with it.
Opiate addiction causes a certain physical desperation in addition to emotional and mental attachment to the drug. There is also less of a stigma attached to heroin as it is popular to snort and smoke the drug rather than inject it. Many teens don’t feel like taking pills is a big deal, and smoking and snorting drugs doesn’t seem nearly as dangerous as shooting up, but it is. When I was abusing opiates, I would do anything to avoid withdrawals. If I had to steal pills from my friend’s medicine cabinet or steal money from my mom, I did it. Part of my fear of getting clean was facing the detox process. I couldn’t stop using because I couldn’t stand being “sick”. Treatment helped guide me through the process, and like anything, it had an end. Eventually I felt better and I know today that I never, ever have to go through that process again. Most people were surprised when they found out I was on heroin. Many people that knew me knew I had some kind of problem, but most people don’t assume a teenager from a good home and a good community is a heroin addict. In Seattle my parents certainly didn’t want to believe it, but once the truth came out, they helped me find help at an adolescent drug treatment center. I never thought that I would love being clean, but I do. It feels so good to be free when I wake up, and not sick and trying to figure out how I will get my fix for the day. I owe my freedom to Visions, for introducing me to the tools I need to live a life free of drugs.

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