May 9, 2000
My name is Phillip . I am 19 years old and I live in Selden, New York. The first time I sniffed heroin, I was 14 years old. By the time I was 16, I was shooting up, I had stopped going to school regularly, and I had lost most of my friends.
When I was 14, I never thought I would use heroin even though there were people I looked up to who used it. But, my first real girlfriend was older than me, and she gave me the drug. Even then, I didn't know it was heroin. I thought I was sniffing ketamin. After sniffing it for a week, I found out it was heroin. By that time, I was already addicted.
I did manage to stop for about two days, but I started again because my girlfriend encouraged me. I had tried many other drugs, but none of them ever made me feel as good as heroin. Heroin made me feel like I was on top of the world. You feel like nobody can harm you -- you can talk to anybody because you feel so confident and so free, and you just love everything you see.
From the day I started sniffing heroin, I stopped going to school on a regular basis. I had missed more than 50 days in a school year. At age 16, two years into my addiction, I started shooting up. I also started losing friends. I was manipulating people and doing pretty much whatever I had to so that I would feel better and not be in withdrawal. I was stealing from stores, family and friends, and I was going to risky areas to buy drugs. I overdosed at least five times.
Eventually, I got left back in the eleventh grade and dropped out of school. The first time I entered drug treatment, I left and got caught shoplifting. Now, I'm back at the Phoenix Academy for four months.
My heroin use has affected my life in many ways. I had so many goals that I've lost. My health and family relationships have also suffered.
I've learned a lot since the day I walked in the door of the Phoenix Academy. I've learned that treatment for heroin addiction is not a simple process and it doesn't happen overnight. It takes a lot of time. I am also very thankful that I was able to get this kind of drug treatment. Without it, I would probably not be here today.
The only advice I have for people is make your children more aware. Talk to them and have a good relationship with them. Know the friends they hang out with, know their families, and make sure their schools are safe.