Heroin becomes addiction for younger generations

By Megan Pellegrino
April 26, 2007

“I cannot go a moment without thinking about heroin. Heroin has become my life.”

As 22-year-old Lisa sits scrunched on her bed at the drug rehabilitation center, she starts to break out in a cold sweat and goose bumps just at the mention of the word heroin, and the sight of the water bottle cap.

In the United States alone, 23 million Americans are addicted to drugs, while only 10 percent seek help for their addiction and are working on a cure. Nearly 600,000 people are in treatment for heroin.

The 1999 National Household Survey on drug abuse estimates that there are149,000 new users of heroin and that nearly 80 percent were under the age of 26.

“I survive my problems by staying high. Being high just makes me feel safe,” Lisa said.

Lisa started heroin at the age of 17 when her parents died in a car crash, leaving Lisa feeling alone and insecure. She turned to heroin feeling that it was the quick answer to happiness and that it is the only drug that carried the “least noticeable side effects.” This enabled Lisa to believe that no one would realize she was high, but she would be happy and not saddened anymore for the sudden death of her parents.

Lisa soon realized that all of her myths about heroin were wrong. Many of the short-term effects of heroin like feeling a rush of excitement, suppression of pain and nausea may be things that one would not notice right away.

On the other hand, the long-term side effects lead a heroin addict on a spiraling downhill loop of no return. Some long-term effects include collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, arthritis at a young age and the most commonly known effect Hepatitis B, C and HIV.

Today, Lisa now lives each day with a frail 97-pound body on a 5-foot-7-inch frame with the permanent damage of collapsed veins in both her arms and legs that she constantly covers with shame.

“I’ve lost everything and everyone because of heroin, but I still feel as though I am worse without it,” Lisa said.

Lisa spends each day curled on her bed in the rehab center surrounded by what she calls “strangers” in hopes that one day she will just “snap out of it,” have no more scars, or that her family or friends would no longer abandon her and not judge her for all of her mistakes made so far.

“Addiction is not a ghetto thing and people get the wrong impression. I came from a good home and family. I am not dumb!” Lisa said.

Heroin is one of the most expensive drugs. Addicts use between 150-250 milligrams per day that can be divided into three doses. Each day it costs an addict around $200 just to maintain the absolute functioning high.

Those who become addicted to the drug are usually from lower middle to upper middle class because money is needed to obtain the drug. Heroin is not the prime choice for lower class civilians.

The rates of heroin are at a constant increase and statistics say that it is rising faster than any other illegal drug because of the type of rush received and how much of the drug is used to receive that high all day long. Heroin addiction has grown at a rapid pace and continues to have society head down the wrong path today.

As for Lisa, as much as she tries to obtain the normal lifestyle, she will never be the same again.

“As much as I want to be normal, I would give anything to get just one more dose of heroin in my bloodstream. I am addicted.” Lisa said.

Loquitur welcomes your comments and questions on this story. Please send your comments to: Loquitur@googlegroups.com. The editors will review your comments each week and make corrections if warranted.

Megan Pellegrino

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