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May 9, 2000

The Domestic Consequences of Heroin Use

Kathryn
Heroin Survivor

My name is Kathryn . I am 19 years old and I live in San Juan Capistrano, California. Four years ago, I was a straight "A" student and a junior varsity tennis player. Just a few months ago, I was living on the streets and physically sick from my drug use.

When I snorted heroin for the first time, I didn't know it was heroin. I thought it was speed. As soon as I snorted it, I knew something wasn't right. First I felt scared. But, then I let the feeling take over and I liked it.

Once I realized I liked it, I continued to use heroin and speed - even when I was in school. I'd use it before geometry class and even tennis practice. Sometimes the drugs would make me so sick that I'd throw up mid-game right on the tennis court. I was also using drugs in my car, at the beach, just blocks from my school, and virtually any place I went. My grades went down, I lost interest in sports, and I lost interest in my life.

My drug use progressed to a point where I had to steal for my drug money. I stole from my parents and I even pawned my grandmother's ring for $25. Eventually, I was living on the streets. My parents didn't know where I was living. I looked horrible and I felt horrible. My stomach felt the worst. The drugs affected my heart and my stomach so badly that I finally wanted to stop. By that time, I had been arrested several times for drug possession and the judge gave me the option of going to Phoenix House.

Heroin and drugs in general affected my life in many ways, particularly my family life. I made life a nightmare for my family. My friends and family used "tough love" on me and told me straight out "this isn't you," "I can't talk to you any more," and "stay away." Even my dad, who had always been my best friend, had to tell me goodbye. When I saw him on Christmas day, he couldn't kiss me or even look at me.

Phoenix House taught me a lot. For instance, it's o.k. to mess up sometimes, but you should be prepared to pay the consequences. Drugs are the road I took to denial, destruction and self-abuse. I used the numbing of drugs to deal with pain and life's problems.

The only advice I'd give to other people is to seek help. You are not alone. Millions of people in this world feel pain and despair at some point in their life. When you need to cope with that pain, you can't do it alone. It's o.k. to say "I need help". It's the first step to recovery and a healthy life. Thank you.