Pubdate: Fri, 01 Sep 2006
Source: Morris Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2006 Morris Daily Herald
Author: Casey Toner and Jo Ann Hustis
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Former Addicts Share Stories Of Addiction, Recovery


EDITOR'S NOTE - "Brooke Rose" is an assumed name for a local former 
heroin addict. Her name was changed to preserve her privacy and safety.

Brooke Rose. 17. Straight hair, messy up top. Painted nails. Soft 
spoken. Likes bowling, shopping and cars.

She's just a teenage girl, but her face shows age beyond 17. Maybe 22 or 23.

Her life is structured. She lives minute to minute. She stays busy. 
No time for free time. No time for phone calls from estranged friends 
or ex-boyfriends.

No time even for dark dreams about powdered narcotics and Cicero. 
Where she'll feel it take hold before waking up. But no, it's not 
true. It once was. For 2 1/2 years it was.

Rose is a recovering heroin addict. She snorted heroin for the first 
time at 15 in a bowling alley. Her friends (ages 14, 16 and 16) had 
been using for three weeks.

Rose and her friend had a deal. They'd try every drug together. Her 
friend was snorting it, so why not?

"The first time I did it I felt sick and I puked all over the place 
and I just kept falling asleep," Rose said.

Her body ached the next morning and she didn't want to get out of 
bed. But her friends used and they got high with no problems, no 
puking. She did it again.

"It wasn't as much of a sick feeling; but it was a good awful," Rose 
said. "You still felt the same, but it was the best high you could ever get."

Rose had dabbled in lesser drugs, but nothing that potent. She 
started using more. Her $20 weekly habit spiraled into $60-a-day daily habit.

Her and her friends (typically her boyfriend) would drive to Cicero's 
ghetto, where they could find heroin. She was using hard and fast. 
Her olive skin tone turned pale. She looked like a ghost.

She was forging checks and stealing to get by. Costs were amassing in 
the thousands of dollars and her highs were hitting faster and weaker.

When she awoke most morning her bones would ache and she wouldn't 
want to move unless she was getting or going to get high.

"(Using) was very intense, it felt like you could do anything, like 
nothing could get in your way, like nothing could hurt you, but 
you're not tired, just calm and relaxed... instantly," Rose said. "In 
the beginning, it would last all day, but in the end the high would 
last only for a few hours."

She'd scam guys from Cicero who packed pistols in their jeans. They 
would got shot at.

"One time we were on the block and I saw this guy pull a gun out of 
his pants and I was scared for my life," Rose said. "I heard the 
shots but nothing happened."

Failed drug tests got her kicked out of school and pneumonia sent her 
to a hospital bed. Doctors told her they could either treat for 
addiction at the hospital or ship her out to a rehabilitation center.

There she spent 41 days battling withdrawal (though the severe 
symptoms only lasted through the first few days) and addiction.

Off heroin, her nose ran and she'd wake up aching, feeling weak, 
fighting cold sweats. Rehab kept her mind focused and body active.

"They give you structure," Rose said.

Eight months clean and she's doing well, though the relapse rate is 
high, more than 60 percent. She's scared because she loves herself 
now. She loves her family, and she wonders if heroin addiction will 
affect the kids she hopes to have.

"I'll watch "Cops" on TV and I'll see drugs and think about it," Rose 
said. "My sister smokes weed and sometimes that triggers me. When I'm 
depressed, it makes me want to use."

She's studying to graduate high school. She wants to go to college 
and study drug counseling because she hopes to save kids like herself.

"I just want to tell people that if you do it, look at everybody 
that's dying out there," Rose said. "Quitting will be one of the best 
things that will ever happen in your life. Right now me and my family 
are real close. When I was using, we weren't. Now I get to spend time 
with them."

"Now I have money to do what I want. I have a car. I can spend time 
with my family and boyfriend when they're not working and I can shop 
- - every girl's dream."

Brandon's Story

Heroin - the short cut to paradise, its users say.

In the United States, it is illegal to manufacture, possess, or sell heroin.

It's on the street, though, by many names - chiva, dope, diesel, 
smack, skag, heron, black tar, horse, junk jenny, brown, brown sugar, 
dark, and H.

Brandon, an area resident, swears he'll never go back to using it again.

An ex-heroin addict, he kicked the habit while in prison. On his own, yet.

Kicking it was bad, he said. Very bad.

"Like the flu. I had real bad cramps and stuff. Took me 13 days to 
get over it. It was awful," he said Thursday.

Heroin withdrawal begins with tears, yawning, and feelings of anxiety 
and irritability, followed by excessive sweating, fever, stomach and 
muscle cramps, diarrhea and chills. These symptoms can continue from 
three to 10 days after the last dose.

Brandon spent 49 months behind bars. He fought his drug addiction 
alone while in jail.

It was a forced withdrawal - he couldn't get heroin in prison.

No drug rehabilitation or medical assistance. He did it alone because 
he was too embarrassed to ask his jailers for help.

Brandon got onto heroin through prescription drugs.

"I was 17," he said. "I was doing them from one of my mom's friends."

He knew he was hooked.

"You know it after you've done it one time," he said. "You know it right away."

His dependence wasn't surprising or frightening to him.

"The addiction clouds up your thinking - the way you see things 
anyway, so it wasn't a big deal until I was older."

He never thought he would be a drug addict at some point in his life.

"Yep," he said. "I just had a real nasty view on heroin and cocaine."

Brandon shot heroin about 10 times per day. The high would wear off, 
and he'd shoot up again.

This is because more and more of the drug is needed to produce the 
euphoria and other effects on behavior.

A drug high is just an awesome sensation, he said.

"Everything feels right. You feel that everything's going the right way."

Brandon said a drug addict doesn't face reality in that this is only 
a condition.

"Not when you're high," he noted. "When you're sober, you know it, 
but not when you're high."

A dose creates a rush or surge of euphoria, skin flushing, dry mouth, 
and heavy limbs. "On the nod" is next, as the user alternates between 
wakefulness and drowsiness. The ability to think is clouded as the 
central nervous system is depressed.

Brandon said doing drugs did not affect his mentality.

"I can tell because the decisions I make today aren't affected by 
it," he said. "It's encouraging."

Education is one of the biggest helps in combating illicit drug use, 
said Wilmington Deputy Police Chief Michael Boyle.

"If you educate the parents what to look for in drugs, how the stuff 
is packaged, what it looks like, what the symptoms of drug use are 
when the kids come home, it makes it a lot easier for a parent to 
help enforce on their child what their kid is up to," he said.

"To look for these things you normally wouldn't know as a parent in 
everyday society. Education is everything. You have to know what 
you're looking for in order to look for it."

Boyle said Wilmington sponsored a public drug forum last week to help 
educate as many people as possible on what to look for where drugs 
are involved.

"What you might look for is if you see a little plastic bag with a 
bit of residue in it, and it's not potato chips in the bottom. Also 
aluminum foil that's maybe unfolded, and perhaps has residue in it. 
It's drugs. Parents can bring these to us and we'll look at it, and 
test it with field test kits," he said.

"With heroin being such a problem, it helps a parent to get treatment 
for the child before it gets worse. We've had so many heroin-related 
deaths. That's why we're trying to rectify the problem now. If people 
get treatment, it's pretty much the only way they're going to get off heroin."

The sickness a drug user gets from heroin withdrawal is pretty hard 
for a user to combat on his or her own, said Boyle - "That's why they 
need treatment."

Parents who find something suspicious in their youngster's bedroom or 
on their person may take it to the Wilmington Police Department for 
identification and assistance.

They also may talk to officers about their concerns.

Drug users are invited to contact Wilmington police for assistance 
with kicking the habit. The telephone number is (815) 476-2811.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman