From Star Student to Junkie: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Heroin Addiction

Pills turn into heroin

Bad batches of dope, 15-year-old kids going to methadone clinics and massive amounts of overdoses are just some of the symptoms of a ridiculous, out-of-control opiate crisis. Back in the day, the worst of the worst kids smoked cigarettes, marijuana, dropped acid and ate mushrooms. That was the scene in most high schools 15 years ago. Today, it’s a much, much different scene. High school kids and some younger are popping whatever pills they can find in their parent’s medicine cabinet. OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Xanax are causing massive addiction problems in kids and creating future heroin addicts. Some of these drugs are given by their doctors, a football coach or even by their families!

A lot of opiate addictions start out with a legitimate reason to take them, whether it be a sports injury, surgery or a painful, chronic medical condition. A person takes the drugs for a period of time, loves the way the pills make them feel and then the doctor cuts them off. They start to go through the vile withdrawal that comes with taking opiates.

So what do they do?

They hit the streets. They find someone they can buy pills from. And that works for a little while. They continue taking the meds and furthering their addictions. Pills aren’t cheap, in fact, many of them sell for $1 a milligram, so when someone buys an 80mg OxyContin, they’re spending $80 for one pill! And they need 3 to get through the day!

Obviously this adds up to a substantially expensive addiction. So they start stealing money out of their parent’s wallet, selling their jewelry, electronics or any other worldly possessions they might have. When they run out of their own things to sell, they steal YOURS. Eventually, the pill addiction is financially unmanageable. So one day someone says:

“Why don’t you just try heroin?”

“It’s way cheaper and way stronger than Oxy’s.”

Now the heroin addiction begins. The athlete, the star student, the once “perfect” child is now strung out on street-bought heroin. An unthinkable situation for any family. In the addict’s mind, it seems to be no big deal and a “natural progression.” Here’s how it gets justified:

“I don’t use needles, I’m not a junkie.”

“I just snort it so it’s really no big deal.”

What these addicts fail to understand is that the world of heroin is much different and much darker than the world of pills. When they buy heroin, all they’re getting is a white powder. It could be baking soda, rat poison, Anthrax or heroin. Right now the heroin that is being sold on the streets is very pure, very strong and very often mixed with other drugs, leading to deadly results.

Last Monday, in West Virginia, there were 27 heroin overdoses in just 4 hours in the town of Huntington. It was looked at as a possible “mass casualty” event and several ambulances were dispatched at the same time to help save the lives of those who got a “bad batch” of heroin. Many of those who overdosed were saved by the administration of Narcan, an opiate-reversing drug. There was one confirmed fatality. The state medical examiner is conducting toxicology tests to try and figure out what was mixed in with the heroin, but it will take 10 weeks to obtain those results.

This story from West Virginia is one of many just like it. A town stricken with the opiate epidemic deals with multiple overdoses, some proving fatal, in a very short period of time.

We are at a standstill in the growing opiate epidemic. It seems as though the more it is fought against, the stronger it becomes. Everyday there’s a news headlines about overdoses, bad batches and deaths all over the country. Most heroin addicts started their addiction using painkillers, innocently enough, not knowing what it would turn into. The most important thing for any family of an opiate addict is to intervene NOW and get them into treatment. The right treatment can be the difference between life and death. Don’t be afraid to approach them or cause them to get upset. The most important thing is to get them the help they need so they don’t turn into another meaningless statistic in the opiate crisis.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction call 877-850-7355 to speak to a counselor today.


Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 11 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.