Heroin Abuse On The Rise

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

Smack, dope, junk, the big H. It's injected snorted, smoked and it's destroying young lives in Michigan.

"I lost my house, I almost lost my kids, I went to jail. And it didn't stop there," said Jennifer Adamczyk.

It was all because of heroin. But for Jennifer Adamczyk that's not where it started.

"Different things like crank, which is meth, to smoking crack and then from smoking crack to heroin," said Adamczyk.

Until a year ago Jennifer had heroin in complete control of her life.

"Wake up, go get high so I could function through the day and I couldn't think of anything else until I got high and it's the same thing every single day."

"It's a cheaper drug -- it's easy to get," said David Cook a detective lieutenant with the Jackson Narcotics Enforcement Team.

The number of heroin cases doubled from last year for JNET. And Cook says the users are getting younger.

"Anywhere from 17 to 25 years old using heroin --- injecting heroin," said Cook.

Cook adds that it costs as little as $5 a packet and that's all it takes to get hooked.

"That's what they get attracted to -- that initial very first hit of heroin and after that they're just chasing that first high and they're never going to get it again --- ever," said Cook.

Mike Hirst lost his 24 year old son Andy to a heroin overdose in May. Andy went to an outhouse at a job site, OD'd and died right then and there. Now Mike tries to educate other parents. Last month he held a substance abuse seminar at Grass Lake High School.

"We just never ever, never ever thought that heroin would be apart of our lives. It was a big blow to us," said Hirst.

Andy tried to get clean a couple of times but, "It makes a chemical change in your brain -- it makes heroin in charge. You're no longer in charge of your life when you become addicted. It tells you what to do, when to do it," said Hirst.

It doesn't matter who you are or where you live. White picket fence; apartment; only child or middle child; heroin doesn't discriminate. But it can silently creep in without anyone even knowing.

"I rode in a truck with him for 14 hours and he was shooting up in the rest stops as we stopped," said Rhonda Pickrell whose son is currently in rehab for heroin. "He was stopping to do heroin and I had no clue. 14 hours in a truck with my own son and I had no clue."

Unlike Jennifer, Rhonda Pickrell's son and even Mike Hirst's son did not have a history with illegal drugs. Pickrell's addiction started after a vicodin prescription after knee surgery.

"He took an extra one and realized how good it felt and he said that was the moment he knew."

"He escalated up the ladder from vicodin, got to oxycontin and once you get to oxycontin, you might as well be doing heroin," said Hirst.

And the addiction usually turns into survival.

"It was $100 a day [of heroin] not to get high but not to die. He really felt like he would die if he didn't get it," said Pickrell.

"You get to a point where it's not a high anymore. It's not a rush anymore. You're not getting high to get a buzz. You're getting high because you need to function thoughout a day," said Adamczyk."

For the Adamczyk, Hirst and Pickrell families, death wasn't a question of why, but when.

"I hated her being in jail," said Lynn Adamczyk, Jennifer's mother; "but I knew she wasn't going to die that day."

"Everytime my son left the house we didn't know if that was the last time we were going to see him," said Hirst.

"You don't know what to do. You're scared to do tough love, but you're scared not to," said Pickrell.

Many parents are scared but as Pickrell found out firsthand, "If you have a gut feeling, check it out. You want to trust your kids but you have to be a parent."

And parents have to hope, that like Jennifer, their kids choose life.

"All I can do is show them I'm different. and I am. Not only for them but for myself," said Jennifer Adamczyk.

There is help out there for those who are fighting with a heroin addiction or any other substance abuse problem. The links below are a starting point.

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