Heroin addiction on the rise in the Tri-State

BATAVIA, Ohio - Data from the Clermont Recovery Center shows that heroin and opiate admissions account for 39 percent of their clients this year, which is up from 17 percent two years ago.

Information coming out of the Northland Rehab Center in Milford is the same.

"It's still a problem. It's increasing. It's getting worse out there," said Steve Gifford, the program director at Northland.

Laurie Eilenberg, a clinical counselor at the Awareness and Discovery group in Newport, says the heroin epidemic is growing in Northern Kentucky, too.

"What we've seen is an increase in opiate abuse and most of our clients here, I would say at least 80 to 90 percent, are here due to opiate addiction," Eilenberg said.

Gifford describes a typical path to addiction.

"The pain pill addiction is still strong and the stories that we hear are [users] start off with the Vicodin, the Oxycodone, the Oxycotin. Their tolerance gets higher. It costs more money and they turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative," Gifford said.

That's exactly the way one 18-year-old recovering addict in Newport described her descent into heroin addiction.

"First I was drinking and then it lead to pills. I just wanted the intensity of the pill effect," said the woman who asked us not to use her name.

"Pills started getting too expensive. They were like $75 a pill so we found heroin and it was cheaper and it got you more 'messed up,'" she said.

Her path to addiction made it harder and harder for her to live a normal life.

"It was to the point where I couldn't even get up in the morning and shower.  I was stealing from my ex-boyfriend's parents every day. Stealing $40 every day just to not get sick," she said.

Users refer to the act of doing heroin as getting "faded."

"It's part of the sedative/hypnotic class of medications and so therefore we would expect [users] become drowsy and lethargic," said Eilenberg.

"It wasn't even to get faded or messed up but just not to get sick," the recovering addict said about stealing the money.

She's been in recovery for a few months and says she wants to earn back her mother's trust.

"I hurt her a lot," she said quietly.

Experts say while the epidemic is growing, there is always hope. 

"Treatment works," Eilenberg said.

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