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Teen heroin addicts: How they got hooked

CINCINNATI (Yolanda Harris) -- One of the most alarming heroin statistics is the number of teens who use the drug.

And the Ohio Health Department says heroin addiction appears to be at an all-time high in the state.  Yolanda Harris spoke with three young recovering heroin addicts to find out how they got hooked on the drug and what it takes to beat it.

"We had a talk, with this last relapse, your choices are jail, death or recovery and that's it. There is no other roads to go down with this," said mother, Nancy, whose son is a recovering heroin addict.
Nancy's 19-year-old son, Wyatt, is recovering from heroin addiction.  He started smoking it at 16-years-old, shooting it at 17.

"It is the single best, worst feeling you'll ever have in your life because you know how good it feels and then you realize, crap I have to do that again," said Wyatt.

According to addiction specialist Dr. Steven Matson, many young heroin users start with opiate pain killers like Vicodin and Percocet.  Whether prescribed, stolen or bought on the streets pain pills are expensive, pushing teens to seek out a cheaper alternative with a similar high.

"So they move to the heroin which is still pretty cheap, about $10 a dose compared to like $50-$60 dollars for a prescription drug," said Dr. Matson.

Dr. Matson says genetics and environment are two major risk factors when it comes to teens and heroin addiction.  But the drug has no boundaries and does not discriminate.

"Right after you do it, it comes over your whole body and your whole body just gets warm and relaxed and it's just like, ahh," said Holly, also a recovering addict.

And just like that, Holly was hooked.  But her road to heroin use began years before.

"It was smoking pot, drinking, ecstasy, pills like painkillers, Xanax, Adderall," she said.

22-year-old Holly comes from a family with a history of addiction problems.  To her, smoking weed at 14 didn't seem like a big deal.  But heroin...that was scary.

"A couple times when I had shot heroin, you get this feeling, I was so numb, I thought I did too much and was gonna pass out and die," Holly said.

19-year-old Cody also knows that feeling.  He spent the past year of his life chasing the heroin high until he hit rock bottom.

Cody said, "With the marijuana, the alcohol and the other drugs it was like a slow effect deteriorating my life. When I stepped up to heroin it took everything from me in a very short amount of time."

Cody says he feels a lot of guilt for the things heroin made him do.  he says he lied to, and stole from, the people he loved the most. 

"I went from being a very honest and loyal person to a completely horrible, dishonest person," he said.

Wyatt, Holly and Cody all agreed to share their struggles in hopes of helping someone else realize that there is hope, there is help, and there is healing.

Cody went into rehab on his own. He's clean and taking it one day at a time.  He plans to go to Columbus State and major in business.  Holly's been clean now for four years.  She says she doesn't regret her drug use because it made her the person she is today.  And after several relapses, Wyatt's clean but admits it's an everyday struggle. 
His mom continues to be his biggest supporter.

Local 12 hopes you will tune in for a live town hall meeting on Ohio's heroin epidemic.  The event will stream live from Columbus Wednesday night at 7p.m. on


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