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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  • by Lynn Location: Jackson on Nov 19, 2010 at 07:01 AM
    Thank you for all the kind words regarding this serious problem the entire country is facing. I am the mother of Jen. I am extremely proud of how far she has come. I never knew Andy persoanlly, but I have come to known his father. He is vigilant in making the public aware of this epedemic. Because of him and my daughters strong will, she has come this far. Thank you Monica and Danielle for your support. It is good to know that even from hundreds of miles away, jen has your support. To Sara. I am very sorry you are such an opiniated person. I am happy for you that you have never made any horrible decisions in your life, so you feel compelled to judge others. To the Hirst family, keep up the fight. To the addicts keep up the fight. To the families, always stay supportive. I love you Jen
  • by Monica Location: Uniontown, Ohio on Nov 18, 2010 at 05:31 PM
    Sadly it is a growing epidemic... in the past two months three people I went to high school with have also died from heroin overdose. It's crazy because tomorrow I am going to calling hours for one of them. I guess I should be thankful that it's not my cousin Jen's funeral I am attending. It takes a strong person to tell millions of people your story. Stay strong and just know you have a loving, supportive family to help you through this trying time in your life.
  • by Danielle Location: Dallas, Texas on Nov 16, 2010 at 07:10 PM
    Hey Sarah, I guess you are perfect and have never done anything wrong in your life! Read the story...each of these people are going through treatment. By the way...Jennifer is my cousin and I, along with my family, don't appreciate the judgement coming from you. We all have only one judge and jury, he is and will be the ONLY one that passes judgement on me or my family. So in the future, think before you speak you never know when you or a family member may be in the same situation.
  • by Meghan Location: Jackson on Nov 16, 2010 at 01:50 PM
    You better think twice on that. Imagine how it might feel to lose a son or daughter. THAT is losing so much more than everything. It's people like you that make society seem ignorant to the problems that need to be addressed. People like you just think that they get what they deserve, when all they really need is HELP. You call them a DRAIN on society when the reality is that society is usually the thing that made people take that route. I am personally offended, being that I personally knew Andy and he was not a bad person. He was not a drain on society. He had a problem and he tried to get help but unfortunately it was too late and Heroin took his life. His father is now trying to educate people about the harm it does, and he went through the pain first hand. Your ignorance is offending and despicable. People may not actually know what will happen if they use drugs. Maybe they weren't at school that day and missed the lesson, but it's not something to be cynical about.
  • by Jen Location: Williamston on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:46 AM
    Wow, Sarah, your sympathy is just so overwhelming (and, um, yeah, it's "heroin", not "heroi"). Addiction is actually a mental disorder so it's not as if these people chose one day to throw away their lives. Many people still continue to believe that they'll be "the one" (who doesn't get addicted, can just use casually, that sort of thing) and none of the bad things will happen to them. Yes, they could've made the choice never to use, but if everyone were always punished for making bad decisions, I guess the lack of sympathy would be directed at even you as I've not yet met a perfect person who is without flaws of any kind.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 16, 2010 at 08:41 AM
    Who is (some) people? How many people are use heroin in Michigan? Plus what is a epidemic? 5 people 100 people or 1000s of people? It sound like its cheap ($5 dollards /package). Maybe someone should get the data! To find out if this is a big problem.
  • by Melissa Location: Lansing on Nov 16, 2010 at 08:31 AM
    Opiate addiction, including heroin, is a disease. The brain of the person with an addiction disorder is different from those without. It is NOT a matter of strength of character or will power. And like any other disease, it deserves treatment. This story should have at least mentioned ways to treat addiction. It failed miserably in that regard. Suboxone is the latest treatment for any opioid addition. Where's the story on those and how many lives Suboxone is saving? Addicts come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicity, gender, and economic background. I'll bet there's at least one person you know who is hiding an addiction. Addicts deserve treatment, not judgment.
  • by Sarah on Nov 16, 2010 at 04:34 AM
    I don't feel bad for these people that are upset that they lost everything to heroi? really? what did you think would happen, who ever said heroi was a good idea? People need to take responsibility for their decisions and stop being a drain on society!
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