Houston’s Heroin Epidemic

The story recently posted by Houston Free Press, “HOUSTON’S HEROIN ADDICTION: AN INVISIBLE EPIDEMIC” really hits home for an addict like me. Born and raised in Southwest Houston, I got to experience first-hand the damage that heroin has done to my city, my family, and my friends. It turns beautiful people, some of the best people I have ever known, into emotionless monsters, destroying everything they have ever loved or cared about. Not because they want to, but because they have become a slave to the drug. For me this progression took place over a number of years. Born and raised in the affluent neighborhood of Bellaire TX, I was given mostly everything I wanted and always was provided what I needed. I was truly blessed, however something still wasn’t right with me, and I was always missing something. When I discovered prescription opiates in 8th grade, my life felt whole again, although I could not foresee the horror that was about to come in the passing years due to a crippling heroin addiction. The Houston Free Press article talks about a problem that many people are unwilling to look at, a problem that is on the rise and will progressively get worse. Unless something is done by various law enforcement agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, we will continue to see the death toll rise, just as it has in the North East region of the United States. This is a life or death matter for a city on the rise, and is not to be taken lightly.After the drug reforms of 2007 and some formulation changes, the price of prescription pills, specifically Hydrocodone and Oxycontin, skyrocketed in Houston. Although law enforcement and Purdue Pharma (the manufacturers of Oxycontin) were doing their best to curb the problem, they unknowingly caused an epidemic. Prices of pills went up, and I could no longer afford my addiction so I, like many opiate addicts, turned to the cheaper alternative, black tar heroin. Heroin was something I said I would never touch. Coming from an upper class neighborhood, I always looked down on junkies as the homeless scum of the earth. I said I would never do heroin, but I crossed that line. I said I would never stick a needle in my arm, but I crossed that line. I was always willing to cross that line to get my fix. Heroin transformed me from a college student with hope and promise into the very person I’d always looked at as ‘less than’. Heroin is no longer an inner city issue. It has spread into the upper class homes of Bellaire, The Woodlands, River Oaks, and West University. Something MUST be done to stop the spread of this epidemic. No one else should have to die when there is so much hope for recovery, but are we willing as a community and a nation to do what’s right?I cannot stress this enough. Recovery from heroin addiction is possible. I and thousands of others are examples of this truth. In the face of such hopelessness and despair, we have found happiness. Happiness without supplemental drugs like Methadone and Suboxone. Today, we are free from taking a pill to make us feel normal. I have personally tried this route of “sobriety” and it simply did not work. The only way I have found to work is the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Without them I could have very easily been like the 14 people I have lost to addiction and alcoholism in the past 5 years – dead. Houston’s heroin problem is not going to go anywhere anytime soon and we must start pushing people into treatment centers and recovery rather than to prison and jail. If you are out there struggling or know someone who is struggling with heroin addiction, there are people out there who want to help. No one should have to endure the pain that comes with this disease. The quote from Robert Martinez in the Houston Free Press article is a sad but true statement, “If you let him hit rock bottom, you’re going to bury him.” In 2012, my friend made a list of the top 5 people he thought would be dead in 3 months. I was at the top of that list. If it not been for some people around me that got me into treatment, that would have been true. I live free today, as can you. No one else need die at the hands of this disease. Houston we have a problem indeed, now what are we going to do about it?-Mark Rector (Tech at The Last Resort)