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Heroin: Heating Up, Part 2

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Heroin is attracting a wave of new, younger users.

According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction, nearly half of young people who reported using heroin also said they tried prescription drugs. They started using heroin because it was cheaper and easier to get.

One man who spoke with NewsWatch12’s Sharon Ko wished to remain anonymous. We’ll call him John Doe.

“When I was in high school, we never heard of heroin,” Doe said. “It wasn’t around. Now, all of these high school kids know everything about it. They’re addicted to it or they’re selling it. Pretty much, you can get heroin anywhere. I can walk to three different houses in a two mile radius from here and get it,” he explained.

Officers with the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety end up searching a home. They find an admitted heroin user named Raymond who says he’s been trying to stop using methamphetamine.

“I’ve been coming off of heroin, I’ve been trying to stay off of that too. So, having the difference between a little bit of meth, heroin, trying to stay away from liquor let alone the rest of it, it’s not an easy thing,” said Raymond.

“Sober people don’t really realize how bad the physical withdrawal is from it, It’s crippling. It’ll keep you in bed throwing up, can’t move, shivering,” said Doe.

A recovering addict, Whitney Raum, said she started using heroin after she got into a car accident.

“Three of my ribs came out and my pelvis got shifted sideways. I started taking a couple of Norco to help with my pain. I went from 2 to 3 pills a day. The next thing I know, I’m eating 40 plus pills a day,” said Raum.

Raum ended up homeless and lived in a tent.

“So, when you’re that low, you have like no soul left,” she explains. “It’s all you turn to. That’s all that’s there is the drugs. Sometimes not even that, ‘cause you don’t have nothing. You don’t have any money to get any.”

Whitney was able to check into a methadone clinic. During that time she got pregnant. Doctors told her she needed to stay on methadone, otherwise her baby would go into withdrawal and could possibly die. Her baby girl was placed at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit because of a blood infection. Doctors say most likely her baby’s blood infection was not because she was using methadone.

Whitney is off of methadone now. She says her withdrawal was worse than when she was coming off of heroin. She says quitting drugs came down to a choice.

“Not saying that the thoughts aren’t there, because since I came off of methadone, I’ve probably had more using thoughts than I’ve had in the last two years being on methadone. But I’m not acting on it, I think about everything I lost. I don’t want to go through it again. I don’t want to put my kids through it,” said Raum.

For users who are choosing not to quit, there’s a deadly risk. In 2011, one person overdosed from heroin in Jackson County. In 2012, seven people overdosed. There were about 15 people who overdosed from other opiates like methadone or morphine in 2012.

Officers with the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety and the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement task force say their job is never done.

“You cannot turn your back on drug enforcement because if you turn your back on drug enforcement, you’re going to open the flood gates for all of these other crimes to continue and flourish because that is the business that they’re in. Addiction may have been prevented here, some lives may have been prevented here, and tragedy may have been prevented here because this did not get distributed. They will replace the dope, they can’t replace the money. That’s really what we’re after, disrupt them,” said Medford police chief, Tim George.

But Doe says as long as heroin is around, a recovery for one means another will take their place.

“About everybody is addicted to it, and everywhere you go, it’s always there,” said Doe.

For more information on a drug recovery center in Medford click here.

For more information on a drug recovery center in Grants Pass click here.