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Utah's Addiction: Heroin making a big comeback with Utah teens

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A decades old street drug is making its way into Utah homes and is taking over the lives of our children. Heroin is making a comeback. It’s an addiction that can start right in the home. For many Utah kids it starts in the medicine cabinets.

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A decades old street drug is making its way into Utah homes and is taking over the lives of our children. Heroin is making a comeback.

 

It’s an addiction that can start right in the home. For many Utah kids it starts in the medicine cabinets.

 

"We're a pill state,” said New Roads Treatment Centers CEO Eric Schmidt. “I mean there are a lot of prescriptions, so there is a lot of access."

 

The use of prescription pain killers in Utah is amongst the highest in the country. They're addictive and easily accessible. In fact, for under age kids it's easier to get than alcohol.

 

"You live in a home without alcohol it's going to be very difficult especially in the state of Utah to go to the state liquor store and at 17 get it,” said Schmidt. “It's not going to be so hard to go down three lockers and get a Lortab or Oxycontin."

 

Adam Christianson's opiate addiction began at the age of 16.

 

"When I was 16 I tore my ACL and I was prescribed Dilaudid, or Hydromorphone, and I started taking those along with a muscle relaxer called Soma and the combo of the two led me straight into addiction,” said Christianson.

 

He began manipulating his parents and lying to his doctors to get more pain pills, eventually selling them to his friends at school. But after about six months his supply ran out.

 

"They take you off the meds, you’re still addicted,” explained Christianson. “They take you right off thinking that you're not abusing it and it kind of leads you into ‘what can I get now?’"

 

Heroin is significantly cheaper than pills and it's easy to find. According to reports Utah ranks among the highest in the country for heroin use among teens...

 

"It's extremely easy to get drugs here in Utah,” said Christianson. "The price of heroin is just so cheap. It is so easy to get and it is much more powerful than opiates that they chose to use heroin as the choice of an addict it's an easy thing to do."

 

And the problem is only getting worse.

 

Christianson said, "The first time you shoot heroin, it's like the love of your life and you don't want to let it go."

 

When you look per capita, Utah now has the 6th highest opiate overdose rate in the country.

 

Schmidt told ABC 4 Utah, "All of us need to wake up and say ‘yeah we have a problem’ and it’s not something that we can pray away or wish away."

 

So what do you watch out for? Schmidt says a look for change in friends, a drop in grades, changes in mood or behavior. Now, that can be hard in teenagers so he says the best way to keep your kids away from drugs is keep them involved in healthy activities, know who their friends are and he says let them know that when they're in your home privacy is not an option.

 

For more information on recovery or the New Roads Treatment Centers log on to: http://newroadstreatment.com/

 

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