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Addicts Share How They Got Addicted To Opioids

Stories of opioid addicts on FRONTLINE

In Their Own Words

FRONTLINE logoFrontline, producer of countless documentaries, asked their viewers to share with them their own stories of addiction to opioids.  The results offer an unvarnished and raw look into what opioid and opiate addicts go through.  How they got addicted, and how they turned their lives around, and unfortunately how some are still tangled in drug addiction.

We’ve collected some of those responses here and hope they will act as a warning to some, and an inspiration to others.

Stories of opioid addicts on FRONTLINE
Stories of opioid addicts on FRONTLINE

How I Got Addicted to Opioids

Emily from Rochester

It doesn’t always begin with a conscious choice to become a junkie, and it certain isn’t just a poor, under-privileged minority problem. I was raised in a white, middle- to upper- class suburb and am well-educated with a masters degree and my opiate addiction began with prescriptions from my doctor who one day decided to stop writing the prescriptions without any instruction or attempts to wean me off even though I had been taking opiates for years. Physically dependent, I had no choice but to either be sick or self-medicate.

Already in pain from the fibromyalgia and arthritis that had been the reason I was taking the pills to begin with, I was not going to suffer through a withdrawal so bad that I thought I was dying as well. So I bought pills on the streets. When it got too expensive to keep buying pills and with supplies not always being consistent, I turned to heroin. I am a perfect example of how addiction does not discriminate.

K.M. who started off using opioids for pain

For opioids, the entry is to manage real pain. For me, a near fatal bicycle wreck broke my back and every bone in my skull. Thus, real pain results from real trauma. Enter painkillers. Enter dependence to not only chase away the pain, but to invite the velvet, where for a moment, there is no more fear, no more anger at the injury, only the velvet lie of a fleeting potion that over time, steals more than it heals.

And then you are back to the beginning, what to do about the pain?

Someone from Toledo, Ohio who has overcome addiction

You can become addicted to prescription opioids and not even realize you have a problem, till it’s too late. In the haze of the high and loved ones saying they’re worried about you, you lie to yourself and them and say you need the pills, that the doctor wouldn’t give you something that would hurt you, that you need them or the pain will be unbearable. So you pull away from everyone so they don’t see you high. Not realizing you are not just taking the medicine for pain — you now need it daily to just to get out of bed. Without it, you’re physically sick. Your whole body hurts, and you know the answer to fix it all is the opioids.

I stopped using, I got help and got to see there is still life left to live. My younger brother passed in December 2014 from a combined drug intoxication and heroin was one of the drugs that helped take his life along with prescription drugs. He lost his battle but I am fighting it in his name to try and help bring this front and center, and let people know there is help out there, there is life after all this. They have to want to get clean, more than they want to get high.

Brittney who has been sober since 2014

This opioid addiction is terrifying to an outsider looking in, but as a user it seems natural and normal. People don’t wish to be this… it seems to just happen. No one grows up saying, “When I grow up I want to be a drug addict.” I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’m a person in long term recovery. …It means I haven’t had a drink or drug since February 23, 2014.

I was that hopeless broken girl, the girl with no purpose, no goals, no values. I felt as though I didn’t matter, I didn’t have a voice, and I would just die a “junkie.” I hated myself and thought “people would be better without me.” I had goals and dreams, I had a great family and friends, I had the world at my hands and I traded it first for a pill that later turned into a needle. The needle took me to a whole new world of addiction. It took my morals and values away. It took my family and friends; it took my education, my purpose. Lastly, it took me.

Heroin changed me into this “other” person. When looking in the mirror I didn’t recognize my reflection, I no longer was the girl I knew. …At the end my family was done, they couldn’t take it any longer. I got an ultimatum get sober or get out. I always thought they hated me but I was wrong. I decided I couldn’t live as an active user any longer. I’ve changed my life around. I work in the field of addiction and I’m a student… taking classes for my drug and alcohol license. I work in a recovery home for women. I see how powerful this disease really is from a different perspective and it’s scary. I had so many great accomplishments in a short amount of time. I’ve rebuilt important relationships that I broke. I worked really hard to get to this point in my life.

Advice? Never lose hope in a person with substance abuse disorder.

The best part of my job is seeing that broken lost girl find her voice and purpose in life just as I did. Seeing the light come back into a girl’s face and seeing her shine. I think because there are so many unsuccessful and sad stories out there we miss the successful stories. The stories with hope attached to them. The stories where mothers and children are being reunited, the stories where women are standing on their own two feet and working towards goals and achieving them, the stories where that broke lost girl finds her way and makes it. These are the stories of hope, if you look hard enough they’re on every corner… Advice? Never lose hope in a person with substance abuse disorder.

There is Hope For Opioid and Opiate Addicts

What we can learn from these folks is there is always hope.  No one is doomed, no matter how bad their addiction has become.  If you’re struggling with opioid addiction or abuse, reach out for help.  Most every community has organizations dedicated to helping those with addiction problems.  And our National Opiate Hotline is here 24/7 staffed by people who can provide guidance and help you determine treatment options and opportunities.  1-888-784-6641

Learn more: Opiate Hotline Heroin Facts

And our report on The Difference Between Opioids and Opiates

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The Difference Between Opioids and Opiates

Overdose and death statistics
Overdose and death statistics
Overdose and death statistics

Opiates are drugs developed from opium.

At one time “opioids” referred to synthetic opiates only .  Currently the term Opioid is used for the broader family of opiates including natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic. Clinical professionals use the word opioid to refer to most opioids, and opiate for a specific non-synthetic opioid.  We typically uses “opioid” to refer to all opioids and opiates.

There are four broad classes of opioids:

Natural Opiates

The drugs on the opiates list come from the alkaloid materials found in the opium poppy seed plant.  Opium poppy seed plants contain a high concentration of morphine-derived alkaloids, which accounts for why morphine is one of the strongest opiates known. Codeine-derived alkaloids make up the second highest concentration.

Natural opiate drug types include

  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Oripavine
  • Thebaine

Synthetic Opiate Drugs

The synthetic opiates are manufactured drugs and they are intended for treating pain symptoms. Though manufactured to resemble natural alkaloid substances, these synthetic drugs are considerably higher potency than natural alkaloids.

Synthetic opiate drug types include:

  • Lortab
  • Demerol
  • Atarax
  • Dilaudid
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Suboxone
  • Subutex
  • Naltrexone
  • Naloxone

Semi-synthetic Opiates

Semi-synthetic opiates contain a small amount of natural opium alkaloids combined with synthetic agents. The semi-synthetic opiates drug types include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Hydrocodone

The natural alkaloids used in the making of semi-synthetic opiates include:

  • Codeine – for hydrocodone
  • Morphine – for hydromorphone
  • Thebaine – for oxymorphone and oxycodone

Summary and video on the Differences Between Opioids and Opiates

Understanding these drugs, their differences, similarities and potency helps us to address the abuse and addiction to opioids.  We have also included and educational video from the The Drug Classroom (TDC) which will shed even more light on these drugs. Drugs are never going to leave our society and there has never been a society free from drugs but stemming the tide of drug abuse and drug addiction is something we can do.

And note, if you are a loved one is tangled in opioid abuse or addiction there is help. Our hotline is answered 24/7 and we can help give you some guidance and possibly help you get the treatment you need.  Call now. 1-888-784-6641

Also read the National Opiate Hotline Heroin  Facts

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Opiate Hotline Heroin Facts

Heroin being prepared to inject
Heroin being prepared to inject
Heroin being prepared to inject

What is Heroin?

  • Heroin is an opioid drug derived from morphine, a natural substance found in the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant.  It is a highly addictive opioid and responsible for thousands of addicts, overdoses and deaths in the USA.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse there was a six fold increase in heroin related deaths from 2002 to 2015.  Heroin and related opioid and opiate overdoses and emergency room stays are at an all time high.  The problems caused by addiction can be horrendous and the financial burden to buy drugs to feed a heroin addiction is daunting.  As bad as opioid and opiate addiction can be there is always hope for the person who is ready to make a change and turn their back on drug addiction.

What does heroin look like?

Heroin is found in several forms:

  1. White powder
  2. Brown powder
  3. Black, sticky substance known as black tar heroin

What are common names for heroin?

  1. Dope
  2. Horse
  3. Junk
  4. Smack

How do people consume heroin?

  1. Smoke
  2. Inject
  3. Snort
  4. Sometimes mixed with cocaine and is called a “speed ball

How does heroin affect someone?

When heroin enters the brain it actually changes back into morphine.  It binds to opioid receptors on brain cells, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure.  It causes:

  1. Strong, feelings of euphoria
  2. Heavy feelings in the hands and feet
  3. Clouded and impaired mental functioning
  4. Dry mouth

What are the long term affects of heroin use?

  1. Likelihood of becoming addicted
  2. Collapsed veins
  3. Lung complications
  4. Abscesses
  5. Infection of the heart lining and valves
  6. Possible overdose
Heroin overdose statistics
Heroin overdose statistics

What happens during heroin withdrawal?

  1. Muscle and bone aches
  2. Sleeplessness
  3. Diarrhea and vomiting
  4. Cold flashes with goose bumps
  5. Uncontrollable leg spasms
  6. Severe heroin cravings

How are heroin overdoses treated?

Typically Naloxone is the medicine used to treat heroin overdose, it should be given as quickly as possible.

How heroin addicts recover

The first thing an addict does to begin their road to recovery is admit they have a problem and cultivate a strong desire to quit.  National Opiate Hotline strongly recommends speaking with a doctor or qualified and experienced medical professional.  Ending a heroin addiction can pose health risks because heroin is so toxic to the body and addictive, so talk to a medical professional.  It’s ideal that an addict gets involved in some sort of treatment.

Heroin treatment paths include:

  • Out patient counseling
  • In patient counseling
  • Day treatment
  • Free support groups like Narcotics Anonymous

Don’t be a statistic. If you or a loved one is tangled in heroin use or addiction the National Opiate Hotline is here to help provide guidance.  The call is free and we’re here 24/7. 1-888-784-6641



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Drug overdose deaths in the United States continue to increase

Heroin overdose statistics

Opioids, opiates and heroin continue to dominate the cause of overdose deaths in the USA.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) report that 91 Americans die each day from opioid (including heroin and prescription drugs).  They recently also noted:

  • The percentage increase of drug overdose deaths among adults aged 55-64 rose from 4.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 21.8 in 2015.

  • In 2015, adults aged 45-54 had the highest death rate from drug overdose at 30 deaths per 100,000.


Deaths from opiate and drug overdose graphic
Deaths from opiate and drug overdose

The lack of treatment opportunities is a leading cause.  Michael Botticelli, the former White House Director of National Drug Control Policy, recently said, “The prescription opioid and heroin epidemic continues to devastate communities and families across the country…in large part because too many people still do not get effective substance use disorder treatment.”

The lack of treatment options and uncertainty about health  coverage keeps many addicts from seeking treatment and recovery.  Sadly, many addicts come to view themselves as being hopeless and beyond redemption.

Opiate Hotline knows addicts can get clean and sober and turn their lives around.  We hope our government does more to help the addict and the stigma of seeking help will be lifted.

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Mother Shares Her Late Daughter’s Poem About Heroin Addiction

Delaney Farrell opiate victim

For answers about opiate addiction and treatment guidance call the Opiate Hotline 1-888-784-6641 we’re here to listen and help you in recovery

Delaney Farrell  opiate victim
Delaney Farrell

The parents of a Pennsylvania 23 year old girl who overdosed on heroin are hoping to help others facing drug addiction by sharing their daughter’s poetry.  They posted her poem about heroin addiction in her obituary.

Delaney Farrell died five years after she began using heroin. She was found dead inside a hotel bathroom. A tragic loss for her family and a needless end of a young girl’s life.  The family hopes her poem can help others to re-think their use of heroin and other opiates and drugs.  We can only hope her story might inspire someone with an opiate problem to decide they want more in life and begin their own recovery.

And here is Delaney’s poem:

“Funny, I don’t remember no good dope days. I remember walking for miles in a dope fiend haze. I remember sleeping in houses that had no electric. I remember being called a junkie, but I couldn’t accept it.

I remember hanging out in abandos that were empty and dark. I remember shooting up in the bathroom and falling out at the park.

I remember nodding out in front of my sisters kid. I remember not remembering half of the things that I did.

I remember the dope man’s time frame, just ten more minutes. I remember those days being so sick that I just wanted to end it.

I remember the birthdays and holiday celebrations. All the things I missed during my incarceration.

I remember overdosing on my bedroom floor. I remember my sisters cry and my dad having to break down the door.

I remember the look on his face when I opened my eyes, thinking today was the day that his baby had died.

I remember blaming myself when my mom decided to leave. I remember the guilt I felt in my chest making it hard to breathe.

I remember caring so much but not knowing how to show it. and I know to this day that she probably don’t even know it.

I remember feeling like I lost all hope. I remember giving up my body for the next bag of dope.

I remember only causing pain, destruction and harm. I remember the track marks the needles left on my arm.

I remember watching the slow break up of my home. I remember thinking my family would be better off if I just left them alone.

I remember looking in the mirror at my sickly completion. I remember not recognizing myself in my own Damn reflection.

I remember constantly obsessing over my next score but what I remember most is getting down on my knees and asking God to save me cuz I don’t want to do this no more !!! “

Treatment and recovery is possible for all, no one is hopeless. If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin or other opiates and opioids, call our hotline today.  We’re here 24/7 to offer guidance and treatment solutions. Call now 1-888-784-6641