Heroin’s destructive force in Oregon: 2-part series

Part 1: Heroin a top killer in Ore., rising among teens

By Abbey Gibb, KGW News, Nov. 11, 2013

Heroin has become the deadliest drug in Oregon, killing one person every three days.

Police say they have seen the drug in high schools, with addicts as young as 13 years old. Meanwhile, users say parents are dangerously unaware of the seriousness of the problem.

Brennan Street knows first-hand. He was hooked on heroin for four years.

“It completely takes over you. You don’t have dreams. You don’t have ambitions. You just have your heroin,” said Brennan.

“I was doing three grams a day — that’s a $300 a day habit — and I wasn’t even getting high anymore, I was just maintaining,” said Brennan, now 21.

Brennan said he started like most teens do, with Oxycontin at high school parties.

“All the kids were doing it. Back then, it wasn’t too expensive. Now it’s ridiculously priced. That’s why everyone switched to heroin and lately I’ve been seeing people start as young as 13 years old.”

Last summer, his desperate parents hunted him down in Vancouver.

“He came out, he lost 20-30 pounds, he was bluish-white, he might as well have been a corpse,” said Brennan’s mother, Marie Street.

“He almost had a relieved look on his face,” said Tim Street, Brennan’s father.

“His dad and I looked at him,” added Marie, “and we said, ‘is this enough now?'”

It was and still is. With the help of his family, he’s been clean ever since.

“How can you throw away a child?” asked Tim, holding back tears. “It’s not something you can do.”

Some parents make the effort and lose. Heroin took the life of Terry Hurd‘s 24-year-old son Adam.

“There isn’t a day goes by I don’t think about it,” said Hurd.  “He was going to be a good kid, he never liked smoking, wouldn’t even drink.”

But things changed when Adam graduated from high school.

“He started on Oxy and was on that for years. He went to rehab at least three times,” Hurd said.

Oxy led to heroin and then, on Oct. 24, 2012, Adam was at a family BBQ at his father’s house.

“He had the heroin delivered to the house, just like a pizza.” Terry went back inside the house to check on his son. It was too late.

“He’s sitting on the toilet, hunched over, passed out and there’s a needle sitting on the counter. Yeah, he was my best friend,” Hurd said behind his tears, “Yep, can’t replace him.”

Friends and families of people struggling with heroin addiction can find help through support groups, including Learn 2 Cope.

There are also many who turn their lives around after attending rehabilitation programs, but like any addiction, it’s a life-long struggle.

KGW also followed two teens who are working to kick the habit together.  Like thousands of kids in the metro area, they started using Oxycontin and then escalated to heroin and even began dealing.

Now they are struggling together to stay clean.

Part 2: Heroin dealers: ‘We ruin people’s lives every day for money’

By Abbey Gibb, KGW News, Nov. 12, 2013

A new killer is taking the lives of teens and young adults each year in Oregon and Washington. High school students and those in their early 20s are getting hooked on heroin.

On recent a cold, pitch-black autumn night, two young kids sat in an old Subaru that they call home. They did not want their real names used and created pseudonyms.

In this world, they measure their lives in grams, not days.

RAW VIDEO – Two drug dealers talk exclusively with Newschannel 8’s Abbey Gibb about the drug trade. This is the unedited complete interview.

“You never think it would get to this point, I don’t think anyone ever would and it’s all because of heroin,” said 21-year-old Jason.

His 22-year-old companion Nicole, reflected on her situation.

“I don’t talk to family, I don’t talk to friends,” she said. “He’s all I have and in all reality, we’re toxic for each other because we do use.”

“I was fully addicted, doing it every day by the time I was 14,” said Jason.

Nicole added, “You can find heroin quicker than you can find weed. It’s easy.”

Just a few years ago, Nicole was living at home, going to high school and had never touched a drug. Then, like thousands of kids in the metro area, she started using Oxycontin.

She said the highly addictive prescription pills were handed out like candy at parties.

“To snort a pill is more acceptable than to smoke heroin,” she said.

A recent government crackdown made Oxy too expensive, sending young adults to use heroin. They say it gives them the same high for less money.

“It’s everybody. It’s everyone. It’s not just homeless people. It’s people you would look at and never expect,” Jason said.

They would know. The two say they recently started selling the drug to support their habit.

“You know what you’re doing. You watch your friends decline. You watch them lose babies because they couldn’t stop because they were high. It’s disgusting. I don’t think there’s any other word for it. I give the ability to ruin people’s lives every day for money, knowing it,” Nicole said.

“It’s not, ‘Oh maybe I will go to jail, maybe I will die.’ Like, no, it’s one or the other and it’s going to happen.”

The high may be euphoric, but it’s not enough to mask Nicole’s raw reality.

“I keep wondering, am I going to come back? Like, even if I get clean, am I going to be me?”

The weight of despair was almost too heavy for her to bear.

“Whether or not the people that I sold to have beating hearts, they are slowly dying. I am slowly killing them. We are slowly killing them,” she said.

By talking with KGW openly about her drug use and drug dealing, Nicole hopes people who think heroin abuse is ‘someone else’s problem’ will think again.

The day after the interview, Nicole said she overdosed. Justin brought her back to life. The next day, they both vowed to quit. They said they’ve been clean for more than two weeks.

Nicole said parents first need to educate themselves to understand that heroin can be a problem for their kids. Then, they need to take the time to openly talk to their children, and act quickly if drug use is suspected at all.

Friends and families of people struggling with heroin addiction can find help through support groups, including Learn 2 Cope.