Heroin: Easy to get on the streets

A former heroin user tells News 4 the drug is easy to get on the streets. The 20-year-old recovering addict lost two of his friends to overdoses before making the decision to get help.

In Erie County, heroin-related deaths increased from 20 in 2012 to 29 last year. Jimmy, a former addict from the southtowns, moved from pain killers at age 15 to heroin at 17.

“I was looking for the same high, but the cheaper and more accessible and more easier to get, so that eventually led me to heroin,” he explained.

Last week, two people were found dead in a Lancaster Motel, and an East Aurora man was found dead in his home. There are more deaths, say authorities, because heroin is being mixed with other, more potent drugs, like Fentanyl.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said, “When you buy something on the street like that, you have no idea about the content.”

Jimmy says he almost overdosed on heroin laced with Fentanyl, and once did overdose on heroin.

“I just started to “nod out,” they call it, pretty much started to fall asleep, and didn’t come back, and my buddy had to give me a shot of Narcan because he keeps them on hand, and just pretty much flushes everything out and gave me an adrenaline rush, and I kind of came awake,” he described.

Once he became hooked, like so many others, the pain of being without the drug was unbearable. At the Renaissance Campus in West Seneca, this is what they are dealing with.

Jodie Altman said, “The desperation that we see in these kids, and we’re talking 14, 15, 16 and up, the desperation to get high and avoid withdrawal, these kids will stop at nothing.”

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was sad news to Jimmy, but he believes he has a greater insight into the addiction that drove the actor to put needles in his arms.

“It’s a hard thing to kick and it takes so much control over you that you could have everything but you continue to use no matter what, like I did. It could have been me,” he said.

Before he got help, Jimmy told was living in a friend’s car and finally realized his life was at a dead end.

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