Resources & Education

May 19th, 2015

From Star High School Quarterback to Heroin Junkie

In sidelineIt may seem really far-fetched that your teen, who seems like a great kid could possibly turn into a heroin junkie. In fact, 95% of parents of teens believe that their child has never taken a pain pill for anything other than it’s intended use. But, the statistics don’t lie – more and more teens (yes, even in upper middle class suburbia) are becoming heroin addicts. And the road from top student to junkie isn’t that complicated nor out of the realm of possibilities.

From use to abuse

Nearly half of teens that abuse heroin begin by abusing Rx drugs. So, how do they start abusing Rx pain pills or opioids? Most teens start using in one of two ways. Either they get the pills from a friend and take them because they are curious and want to feel high, or they are legitimately prescribed the pills after an injury, dental procedure or because they have a chronic condition that causes pain. Legitimate use can quickly turn into dependence, which leads to pain pill abuse, addiction and in more and more cases, heroin use.

To illustrate how simple the road to heroin abuse can be, we’ve created a sample story below…


Jack’s Journey

Jack is a start student and stellar athlete. During the second game of the season, Jack suffers a knee injury that requires surgery. Jack is prescribed pain pills.

After a while, Jack notices that his usual dose isn’t helping, so he begins to take more pills than described to help with pain. Because he is taking more pills than prescribed, he quickly runs out. He thinks he needs then and is also depressed that he is out for the rest of the season. He begins to steal meds from his parents and friend’s medicine cabinets. (Fact: Two thirds of teens that abuse pain pills say they got them from a friend or relative.)

Jack’s parents become concerned when he spends too much time in his room, sleeping and hanging out with a new set of friends. When they confront him, he denies that anything is wrong.

Jack tries to stop using pills but finds that he begins to experience terrible withdrawal symptoms. Jack goes back to his doctor, but is denied more pain medication. Desperate to stop withdrawal symptoms, Jack starts to buy pills, but soon finds he doesn’t have enough money to support his habit. Jack turns to a cheaper high – and injects his first dose of heroin.


Keep your eyes wide open and watch for any warning signs of drug abuse. Don’t wait to get help. And if you know your teen is an addict, make sure you go through narcan training and have a kit.

And if you have any questions, please call the confidential hope line that Painkillers Kill has set up 855-969-HOPE. We can help connect you to addiction resources available in the Western New York area.

Sources: Some statistics are from the Partnership for Drug Free Kids

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