I continue to be alarmed with the news that heroin is becoming a more prevalent drug in our society. I was reminded of the reality of this just the other day when I saw a young adult (20 year old) patient of mine that I had not seen for awhile. I remembered that during the end of his high school years his mother had called me about some issues he was having....but I never heard more and had not seen him for quite some time.
He came into the office as he was having cough and cold symptoms. While I was taking the history of his illness, I also started asking him how he had been and what he was doing now. He told me that he had just recently gotten out of rehab and was working part time and planning to start taking some college classes. While he certainly was not the first patient of mine who had been to rehab, he was the first to tell me that he had been a heroin addict. I was "shocked" to say the least....heroin? One of my patients?
He was quite open as he told me he had started smoking marijuana in high school and then had gone on to experiment with other drugs including prescription narcotics, mushrooms and even meth. He was then introduced to heroin and as he told me , "it is readily available around here and in almost any high school in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area". He also told me that heroin is cheaper than many other drugs, so may be a go to drug. What really struck me was when he said "I cannot tell you the rush and euphoria you get with heroin.....you are addicted the first time!". That statement turned out to be true for him.
At some time in the last 2 years he had also been arrested and sent to jail, but once out he continued to use heroin until he finally accepted help and went to rehab. He had been clean for months and was continuing to work on staying that way. I was so proud of him as well as his honesty in discussing his addictions. I pray that he may stay clean and sober, although he is smoking now...but as he said to me, "that discussion is for another appointment". Agreed.
The face of heroin addiction is not like I had thought. It is now affecting a lot of this country and in suburban neighborhoods and schools. This is not only an inner city problem. If his statement, "I was addicted the first time" is true...then this is yet another discussion to have with our teens.
While some teens "experiment" with alcohol and marijuana, there is no experimenting with heroin.