Hooked On Heroin: Drug’s Use Rises With Oxycontin Changes
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — “It’s nasty, it really is.”
Black tar heroin, it’s a nasty addiction.
Usually associated with the drug culture of the sixties and seventies, heroin had the stigma of dark back alley shooting galleries of an older generation.
“Easy money, that’s what got me into the whole game in the first place.”
But it’s making a huge comeback.
“Some kids you’d never expect are using drugs.”
Migrating from those back alleys it’s now standing on the doorsteps of some of the most affluent and unsuspecting neighborhoods in the central valley: Granite Bay, Folsom, El Dorado Hills, and Rocklin.
“It’s a nasty thing to depend on.”
We’re protecting this young man’s identity.
A heroin addict since 18 and former drug dealer, he lives in one of those upscale communities.
“I knew the money was good.”
What’s his target market?
“Sad to say but I’ve sold heroin and needles to also [sic] 13, 14 year olds, junior high, high school kids. I mean it’s that bad.”
Middle-school children are now being introduced to a dirty old drug.
“It’s your normal kid you’d see walking around in the mall or something.”
Why is this happening?
Dr. Michael Gorman, program director at Stanislaus County’s Genesis Program has an answer.
“People are now switching from prescribed opiates to heroin.”
Dr. Gorman says the drug use usually starts at home in mom and dad’s medicine cabinet or with friends.
“But the story is consistent, pills to heroin. For the young user that’s almost universal,” he says.
The powerful painkiller Oxycontin is part of the same opiate family as heroin.
It’s been a drug of choice at teen parties.
Our reformed user says “I had some personal issues with family and stuff and it kind of numbed my pain.”
Teens quickly get addicted, many snort or smoke the drug for a more intense high.
To help combat that, Oxycontin’s makers reformulated the pain killer in 2010 so that it was more difficult to crush and repurpose.
That’s when cops and counselors saw an unintended impact, a startling rise in heroin use.
“Heroin is more available and in many cases cheaper,” says Dr. Gorman.
And here’s a stunning discovery: heroin is actually more socially acceptable among teens today because they don’t have to inject it.
But snorting and smoking it may give “too little high” “too slow” says Barbara Thompson, executive director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in Sacramento.
“And so our concern is that over the next few years more of the people starting to use needles to inject because you get the most bang for your buck.”
“Heroin is spiking on the increase,” says Sergeant Scott Horrillo of the Rocklin Police Department.
He’s seen heroin arrests in his city go up from two to 18 in just the last three years.
Even more disturbing, he says users are getting younger and more desperate.
“Recently it’s been shifting more towards street drugs such as heroin.”
The timing coincides with Oxy’s reformulation.
Our former dealer admits “someone came to me and I wouldn’t deny them.”
CBS13 reporter Ron Jones continued his line of questioning:
“Why are young people as young as 13, 14 even attracted to it?”
“They see someone else doing it so they’re like why don’t I try it type thing you know.”
He warns parents to especially watch out for their young daughters.
“I have sold to some younger teenage girls and they got heavy addicted to it in a couple of months… to me at the time it wasn’t about affecting someone’s life. It was about the money.”
Heroin habits are expensive: “In a month probably close to five-thousand dollars,” says our former dealer.
And what about the girls who can’t afford the drug?
It’s simple he says: “sexual favors… everything you said you won’t do you will do eventually.”
Thompson declares “Well, the age of innocence is gone.”
Thompson says the one way parents can combat this scourge is to get their heads out of the sand and be proactive.
“Honest dialog is the key before they’re exposed.”
Our former dealer concedes that “once you’ve realized all the things you’ve lost, all the people you’ve loved, all the guilt that you have it really builds up. That’s what it took for me to get over it.”
He’s finally going through rehab but still feels that black tar demon trying to drag him along on one more ride.
“You’re either going to end up in the box or you’re going to be addicted for the rest of your life.”
For more information:
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Sacramento