When 20-year-old John purchased white powder at a party, he was told it was crushed painkillers. In reality, it was pure heroin. For four months, John's mother says he unknowingly snorted heroin before he realized what it was. John desperately tried to overcome his heroin addiction, but ended up tragically dying of an overdose.
John's story is not unique. The premiere episode of "Oprah Prime" explored the deep impact of heroin addiction with Russell Brand and shed light on a startling trend in which teens and young adults like John are being misled into taking the drug by friends and dealers. Jack Riley, DEA Special Agent in Charge, has seen the dangerous trend firsthand.
"We see heroin traffickers really trying to hook prospective new customers into the heroin addiction simply by not telling them what it is they're selling," Riley says.
Twenty-four-year-old Vincent, a former college football player and a recovering heroin user, admits to being on the other side of the trend. "I used to trick people into doing heroin so that they would do it with me," he says. "I would tell them it was OxyContin, Vicodin, cocaine –- really, anything. Anything less than heroin."
Gabriela, now a 23-year-old office manager, was just a high school freshman when she got caught up in drugs with her senior friends. "I thought I was getting myself involved with cocaine," Gabriela says. "A year later, I found out that I was actually doing heroin. By then, I didn't know how to stop. I couldn't stop."
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there has been an 80 percent increase in teens seeking treatment for heroin abuse in the past decade.
If you or someone you love needs help conquering an addiction to heroin or any other substance, contact the following resources.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
For 24-hour alcohol and drug information, call 800-662-HELP.