May 9, 2000
My name is Dennis . I am 19 years old and I am from East Islip, New York. I was 16 years old when I first started snorting heroin. Before I started using drugs, I had a college baseball scholarship and sports were my life. Two years later, heroin was my life.
Although I was one of the best baseball players at my high school, I didn't feel comfortable with myself at school and I looked for a new group of friends. The crowd I turned to used drugs and just seemed to be more exciting.
Drugs quickly took me down a destructive path. About a year after I started, I had received five years of probation for stealing a car and burglary. While I was on probation, another drug user suggested I try heroin. I first sniffed heroin out of curiosity. I was told it would make me feel good. I was also told that heroin left your system in a couple of days so that I could pass my drug tests for probation. Heroin made me feel warm inside - also numb to all my feelings and problems. And, it was cheap and easy to obtain.
I used heroin for ten months and eventually failed a drug test. As a result, I was sent to a 28-day rehabilitation facility. Six months after leaving that facility, I began using heroin again and found I had to keep taking the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms. I also had to begin selling the drug to support my habit. After I failed another drug test, I had a choice of going to jail or going to Phoenix House, so I came to the Phoenix House Academy in Ronkonkoma.
Heroin had a powerful effect on my life. I did nothing but get high and sleep. I wound up dropping out of school and I stopped playing sports, which had been my life before drugs.
My friends were constantly wondering what was wrong with me because they wouldn't hear from me for days. My parents would often not be able to find me because I'd be in a hotel sniffing heroin and cocaine with other drug users. I was able to keep my heroin use a secret until I started to sell it. At that point, I almost cleaned out my parents' house from stealing so much from them to support my habit.
Since entering treatment at the Phoenix Academy, I've learned a great deal about myself, heroin and other drugs. I've learned that I can be myself and deal with my issues and problems without the help of a substance. It also helps to see older people in treatment and hear their stories. I got a chance to realize where my life could have gone if I continued to do drugs. I've learned to take on my responsibilities instead of neglecting them to get high. I also learned to communicate with my family and others on a sober and positive level. The biggest thing I've learned is just to be myself and honest, and all the other things will fall into place.
I would advise people to take heroin and its powers seriously. For parents, I would advise them to become more educated about drugs and addiction and to start teaching their kids at a young age - because I've noticed that a lot of kids are starting younger and younger. For teenagers, I would tell them that they don't need a drug that will hurt them in the long run to get along with others or to hide and deal with everyday problems. They should just be themselves and do all they can with their lives.