THAT FIRST HIGH…

December 28, 2018 at 5:15 am

Hear the firsthand account of a recovering opioid addict about the first time he fell prey to these drugs and how he finally broke free from their deadly grip.

For more information on substance abuse resources, click here. 

Aired on October 17 & December 27, 2018.

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>>> YOU'VE HEARD EXPERTS EXPLAIN
HOW OPIOIDS CAN WREAK HAVOC ON
THE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
OF ITS VICTIMS.
NOW HEAR FROM AN OPIOID SURVIVOR
AS HE DETAILS THE UNFATHOMABLE
GRIP OF HEROIN ADDICTION.
PATRICK IS A RECOVERING HEROIN
ADDICT, CLEAN FOR THREE YEARS.
HE'S NOW A STUDENT AT JEFFERSON
COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN WATERTOWN
GETTING HIS DEGREE TO BECOME A
COUNSELLOR TO HELP OTHER
ADDICTS.
PATRICK NEVER BELIEVED THAT HE
WOULD BECOME ADDICTED TO HEROIN,
BUT ADMITS IT IS A VERY POWERFUL
DRUG.
>> SO WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT
HEROIN IS ADDICTIVE, HOW
ADDICTIVE IS IT?
>> THE FIRST TIME.
THE FIRST TIME I -- AS FAR AS
YOU CAN SNORT IT AND YOU MIGHT
NOT BE ADDICTED TO IT THE FIRST
TIME.
I HAVE KNOWN PEOPLE WHO HAVE
SNORTED IT AND IT WASN'T THEIR
THING, BUT I'M ASHAMED TO SAY
THAT I USED A NEEDLE.
BUT IF YOU DO, THERE'S ALMOST NO
TURNING BACK FROM IT.
IT IS THAT STRONG.
IT IS JUST AN OVERWHELMING
FEELING, LIKE THAT WAS WAY TOO
INTENSE, BUT YOU CHASE IT.
>> CAN SOMEBODY BECOME ADDICTED
JUST AFTER ONE USE?
IS IT THAT POWERFUL?
>> I BELIEVE I WAS ADDICTED
AFTER ONE USE.
AS FAR AS HEROIN IS CONCERNED,
AS FAR AS USING A NEEDLE, I WAS
ADDICTED AFTER ONE USE.
>> WE WERE TALKING EARLIER, AND
PEOPLE SAY YOU DON'T LIKE THE
STIGMA WHEN PEOPLE CAN SAY
THEY'RE ADDICTED TO HEROIN, WHY
DON'T THEY JUST STOP, WHY DON'T
THEY -- IT IS NOT THAT EASY, IS
IT?
>> IT IS NOT THAT EASY.
LIKE I WAS JUST SAYING, IT IS --
YOUR BODY STARTS PRODUCING
ENDORPHINS, NATURAL PAIN
KILLERS.
AND WHEN -- IF YOU COULD JUST
STOP, THAT WOULD BE WONDERFUL,
BUT YOU GO INTO SEVERE
WITHDRAWALS WITHOUT HAVING
OPIOIDS.
YOUR BODY NEEDS TO MAKE UP FOR
THE CHEMICAL IMBALANCE.
WHEN PEOPLE SAY, WHY CAN'T YOU
JUST STOP, IT IS A DISEASE.
>> WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU WHEN YOU
WERE ON HEROIN?
>> WITH HEROIN, EVERYTHING THAT
IS IMPORTANT TO YOU, EVERYTHING
THAT YOU LOVE, IT JUST TAKES --
IT STOPS.
THE DRUG, I DON'T CARE IF I
NEGLECT MY FAMILY, I DON'T CARE
IF I NEGLECT MY FRIENDS.
I DON'T CARE -- YOU YOURSELF,
YOU DON'T EVEN REALIZE YOU'RE
DOING THIS.
YOU BECOME SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T
EVEN CARE FOR YOURSELF.
>> THE EXPERIENCE THAT YOU HAD,
YOU SAID IT WOULD BOR
TO O.D. ON HEROIN JUST
BECAUSE OF WHAT IT DOES TO YOU.
IT IS NOT THAT YOU -- YOU DON'T
LIKE -- YOU THINK THERE'S A
MISCONCEPTION ABOUT OPIOID
OVERDOSES.
>> I DO.
>> WHY IS THAT?
>> I THINK THAT THE GENERAL
POPULATION THINKS, OH, HE DID
TOO MUCH.
HE WAS ALREADY HIGH AND HE DID
MORE, AND NOW HE'S OVERDOSED.
IT IS NOT THE CASE AT ALL.
THERE'S A COUPLE OF THINGS.
A, YOU'RE PUTTING SOMETHING
DIRECTLY INTO YOUR VEINS.
YOU DON'T KNOW -- YOU GET IT IN
A LITTLE PLASTIC GUY FROM SOME
GUY, YOU KNOW, YOU DON'T KNOW
HIM, AND YOU'RE GOING TO PUT
THAT RIGHT INTO YOUR VEINS.
REALLY?
THAT COULD BE CUT WITH ANY
NUMBER OF HARMFUL CHEMICALS.
IT COULD BE MORE POTENT THAN
ANYTHING YOU HAVE EVER TRIED,
AND YOU STICK THAT INTO YOUR
VEIN.
IT IS RUSSIAN ROULETTE RIGHT
THERE.
>> WHAT WAS YOUR WAKE-UP CALL?
WHAT MADE YOU SAY, HEY, I HAVE A
PROBLEM, I NEED TO GET MY ACT IN
LINE?
>> LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE BECOME
BASICALLY.
YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF.
>> AND YOU DIDN'T LIKE IT?
>> NO.
NO ONE LIKES THAT.
>> THE COURSES AND THE PROGRAM
THAT YOU'RE GOING THROUGH, IT
SEEMS LIKE A PERFECT FIT FOR
YOU, RIGHT.
I MEAN SO YOU KNOW HOW IMPORTANT
IT IS TO BE THERE FOR SOMEBODY,
IS THAT WHY YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO
GO INTO THAT FIELD OF STUDY?
>> I'VE BEEN USING SOMETHING OR
ANOTHER SINCE I WAS 13 YEARS
OLD.
I REMEMBER GOING INTO MY FIRST
28-DAY PROGRAM, AND I FELT AT
THAT POINT IN TIME, EVEN THOUGH
I WASN'T SUCCESSFUL AT THAT
28-DAY PROGRAM, IT WAS JUST I
KNEW THAT THIS IS WHAT I WANTED
TO DO IF I COULD JUST ACCOMPLISH
MY OWN RECOVERY, THAT THIS MADE
SENSE TO ME.
IF I COULD HELP SOMEONE HELP
THEMSELVES DOWN THE ROAD WITH
THEIR OWN RECOVERY AND HELP THEM
ACTUALLY GET BETTER, GET THEIR
LIVES TOGETHER, THEN IT WOULD BE
WORTH IT, IF I COULD HELP ONE
PERSON ACCOMPLISH RECOVERY
BECAUSE I CAN'T DO IT FOR THEM.
I'M NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO
IT FOR THEM.
IT TAKES A LOT.
A COUNSELLOR IS NOT GOING TO BE
ABLE TO DO IT FOR THEM, BUT YOU
CAN GIVE THEM THE TOOLS TO BE
ABLE TO HELP THEMSELVES.
IF YOU CAN SAVE ONE PERSON, I
ALWAYS THOUGHT IF I COULD SAVE
ONE PERSON, ALL OF THE MONEY,
THE EDUCATION, ALL OF WHAT I
WENT THROUGH WOULD BE WORTH IT.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR
SUCCESS.
LET'S DO IT.
CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING -- HOW
MANY YEARS CLEAN?
>> SINCE I WAS --
>> YOU YOURSELF SAID THAT
MANY -- AND YOU SAID JUNKIES
WOULD NOT GO ON AND TELL THEIR
STORY, YOU ARE DOING THIS.
WHY?
>> LIKE I SAID, I WAS COMPLETELY
NERVOUS ABOUT COMING DOWN HERE,
THINKING THAT, OH, PEOPLE JUST
JUDGE ME AS, HEY, THAT'S THE
JUNKY, HE DID THE HEROIN, HOW
COULD HE DO THAT, THAT'S
DISGUSTING.
BUT I'M NOT THAT PERSON ANYMORE,
AND THIS, I GUESS, IS JUST ONE
OF MY CONTRIBUTIONS.
IF I CAN HELP SOMEONE OR HELP A
FAMILY REALIZE THAT, HEY, THEIR
SON CAN GET BETTER, THIS KID GOT
BETTER, THIS KID IS DOING WELL
FOR BEING A HEROIN ADDICT, HE'S
MAKING IT HAPPEN FOR HIMSELF.
MAYBE I CAN DO IT OR MAYBE MY
SON CAN DO IT.
IT IS HOPE, I GUESS.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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