Hooked on Heroin: An addict's tale

By Matt Porter

October 28, 2013 Updated Oct 28, 2013 at 7:29 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Needles, stealing, and ultimately getting thrown in jail were all part of one 23-year-old's life because of his addiction to Heroin.

"When I first tried Heroin it really was different than any other drug," he said. "It really got a hold of me. I knew right then it was bad news."

John, which is not his real name, first tried Heroin when he was 17.

The high was overpowering, so much that he would do almost anything to get another hit.

"Anything I could get that could fuel my addiction I would put in my pocket," he said.

John stole from his parents, anything from money in their wallets to jewelry in their drawers.

He robbed department stores by stealing clothing and returning them for gift cards he'd sell for cash.

"At the time you convince yourself there's no other alternative," he said. "You have to do what you have to do in order to get the next one."

When he was arrested for the last time, police found him ripping copper wire from railroad yards.

John said his parents for years never knew, at one point, he thinks they fell into denial.

He said keeping his parents fooled was easy.

"I was so convincing. I was such a good manipulator when I was using," he said.

Broome County Sheriff David Harder said the office has seen an up tick in burglaries related to Heroin.

"They're stealing from neighbors houses, whoever, they're forging checks from their own family," Harder said.

Harder said most parents and families take a long time to accept the problem.

"They can't believe a member of their family is actually stealing from them until they open their eyes and see what's happening," he said.

In Broome County, the number of arrests for Heroin possession have more than doubled.

Since August, Broome County has made 81 Heroin arrests for possession or sale of the drug.

In 2012, deputies made only 48 arrests.

"The Heroin problem is definitely the worst I've ever seen it," Harder said.

Dr. Peter Ronan, medical director for the UHS New Horizons addiction clinic, said almost all its clients are addicted to opiates.

Most of them, Heroin.

In 2000, only 1 in 10 patients came in addicted to opiates.

"The situation is rapidly increasing in amount," Ronan said. "We're seeing more and more patients coming in."

Ronan said Heroin provides a quick and powerful addiction.

"One morning they wake up and realize , 'I can't get out of bed with this stuff," he said.

The overdose numbers in Broome County have doubled since 2011.

In five years, 13 people have died because of Heroin according to the county health department.

The number of deaths doubled in the county after 2011.

Ronan said the overdose risk with Heroin is more because of differently it can be cut.

"The risk of overdose with Heroin is much higher," Ronan said.

For John who's been clean for two years, he risked death each day.

"Any of the times I stuck that needle in my arm to get high, that easily could have been the last time," John said.

One of his worst memories is leaving a friend in the middle of an overdose.

"Watching people overdose in front of you, and instead of helping them," he said. "You run away because you're afraid of being arrested."

New laws making prescription opiates like Oxycontin more difficult have had a side-effect of making Heroin rates grow say doctors like Ronan.

He said Heroin is an easier and cheaper alternative to prescription pills which are often the gateway for addicts to Heroin.

(This is part 1 of a two-part series on Heroin addiction in the Southern Tier)

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