Heroin Use Up, Addiction Age Down in West Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- The world was shocked when 31-year-old Corey Monteith died and even more stunned when they learned the cause of his death was from a toxic mix of heroin and alcohol.

The substance abuse and mental health services administration says heroin use amongst teens is up 80 percent. We spoke with two recovering heroin addicts, Samantha and Dave, both 20-years-old.

“When people say heroin addict you don’t think of someone like you or me, you think of some bum or something like that,” Samantha said.

According to the drug and alcohol services information system, in the last 20 years the number of people checking into rehab for heroin addiction in Michigan has more than tripled .
Samantha says it’s an epidemic right now that’s gotten worse in the past few years.

Both, addiction started with pills, then like many as drug manufacturers began creating abuse proof prescriptions, they moved on.

“They switched the formula for oxycodone and the thing I thought would be most similar to that was heroin,” Samantha said.

In Kent County heroin-related deaths have nearly doubled since 2009.  Both Samantha and Dave say they’ve lost a friend to a heroin overdose and have brushed death themselves.

“Vomiting, nausea, passing in and out of consciousness and loss of your leg functions,” Dave described his overdose.  “Just going basically into darkness for a while, it’s very scary.”

Statistics shoe heroin addicts checking into rehab are also getting younger.

Both Samantha and Dave say if they wanted heroin, they could find it.  And don’t just think ‘street buys.’  They tell us you can easily buy drugs online and have it shipped to your home.
It’s that easy access that made it easier to hide their addiction.

They’re speaking out now hoping they can stop even one person from using for the first time.

“I’m worried that it’s just going to be there when they’re wanting to try something and that it’s so addictive that they won’t look back,” Dave said.
Samantha hopes to educate people from making the same mistakes she made.

For help with addiction visit http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

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