Call for Action Investigation: Hooked on Heroin Part I

Today's heroin junkies aren't the sad, sick criminals you envision with needle marks all over their bodies, shooting up in dark alleys.

They're your kid's best friend, your neighbor, even your very own son or daughter.

One young user told us, "I was doing it in class, in the back of class I'd hide and take a hit and no one would notice."

Another explained, "She did heroin for a month and she lost everything. She threw it all down the drain within a month. She destroyed her whole life."

A third said, "It changes your total perception of life and changes your total drive, kills it and just takes the meaning out of life."

These kids are now getting help. They're hiding their identities, but telling you their stories.

Their parents say they never in their wildest dreams thought this could happen to them.

One parent told us, "There were days where I thought if I got a phone call after 9, it was going to be from the police to identify his body."

A second said, "A lot of parents I've spoken to have been in denial saying that their children don't do drugs... wouldn't do drugs."

A third explained, "It's everywhere. It's saturating District 20, I know for sure."

Police and School District 20 administrators confirm drug dealers have found a niche in the north part of Colorado Springs. We're told dealers from Mexico are marketing black tar heroin to those who can afford it, and it's impacting everyone from jocks to the most studious.

One student explained, "It's not just the druggie crew, you know the druggie crowd, it's the jocks and you know, some nerdy people are doing it. It just became so available."

Jim Grayson, the assistant chief of security for D-20 learned, "It can range from athletes to cheerleaders to Honor Society members and it really doesn't know a boundary."

Grayson says they discovered heroin was a problem last October and immediately stepped up patrol as well as educational efforts.

These brothers asked their mother for help after realizing they were hooked. Their wake up call: getting caught stealing to support their habit and being threatened by a drug dealer for not paying up.

The older brother told us, "I gave him the money and he lifted up the center console and there was a gun in it and he said you screw up like this again, and it was implied what he would do."

The younger one explained, "We were stealing Ipods, stealing DVDs, stealing laptops, stealing stuff from our parents, stuff from our friends."

Parents say their children's' addictions have left them in financial ruin.
Treatment is expensive. Some programs cost upwards of $40,000.

In tears, one parent said, "I lost everything I had, but it's worth every penny, everything I gave up."

Another said, "Treatment centers are expensive, you know, but you throw everything you have into it because what else are you going to do."

One father said, "I'll be in debt for the rest of my life."

And even expensive treatment doesn't always work.

Dr. Judith Reynolds is one of only two addiction medicine specialists in El Paso County.

She says there are very few treatment options in Colorado Springs for young people and treatment is a lifelong commitment.

Dr. Reynold says, "I've had people say, well just quit...You know just tell them to quit. Well, you need help with that because of all kinds of physiological symptoms that are going to happen in the process of withdrawal."

Another struggle for young addicts, many drug treatment programs won't take minors. Sometimes their best bet is getting arrested so the legal system will cover treatment when they're locked up.

Dr. Reynolds adds, "It's frustrating for providers because we have no place to send people."

She believes high schools should be proactive and teach stress management classes to help young people learn skills to cope with stress.

Parents and kids both say: pay attention and learn the warning signs and symptoms.

One user says, "You'll have a real raspy voice, pinpoint pupils."
Another says, "Real drowsy, falling asleep, throwing up for no reason."
They go on to say, "Real lethargic, it's totally like a sedative, numbs your whole body... crazy mood swings."

One father explains, "There's no longer anything in their eyes, they're numb to the world."

A mother emphasizes, "Parents who think their kids are using, do get in there and fight for them!"

Parents I spoke with suggest getting your teens drug tested if you're suspicious. Test kits like one I purchased from Walgreens are available for less than $20.

They say the most important thing is to get help ASAP.

School District 20 conducts a drug survey among its middle and high school students every other year.

It shows drug use below the national average ... below 10 percent for 23,000 students.

The district says if students ask an adult for help for themselves or for someone else... they aren't punished. Their parents are called and counselors try to help them get treatment.

Part II of Hooked on Heroin focuses on the tactics dealers are using to lure students.

We asked Colorado Springs Police about their efforts to fight this growing problem.

Officers say any information given could compromise their current investigations.

To see Hooked on Heroin II click on the link below.

Resources:

Colorado Treatment Services is a drug addiction treatment center specializing in treating opiod addiction. It offers counseling, mental health services and group therapy. All of its counselors are certified by the state as addiction counselors at the second or third level.

Dr. Judith Reynolds has been in the addiction field for more than 30 years. Colorado Treatment Services offers methadone and suboxone treatment.

Colorado Treatment Services:

2010 E. Bijou Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
(719) 434-2061

Insight Services, PLLC says it will help parents navigate the difficult terrain of finding the right form of treatment for their child.

It offers an outpatient program for adolescents specifically
geared towards black tar heroin. Phone calls are free. A fee is charged for an assessment.

Insight Services:

115 East Costilla Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Phone: 719-447-0370
Fax: 719-447-0371

Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo offers an adolescent substance abuse program for those 18 and under. We're told some insurance companies will cover some costs if you have a "Substance Abuse Benefit." Parkview says it will work for those without insurance coverage.

Parkview Medical Center
56 Club Manor Drive
Pueblo, CO 81008
Phone: 719-584-7327

Urine Analysis ($17 - $20 charge) as well as outpatient counseling are available at:

Confidential Health Services
1011 North Weber Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Phone: 719-578-9888

A Turning Point
5160 North Union Boulevard
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
Phone: 719-550-1011


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by @@Ashley on Apr 12, 2011 at 06:50 AM
    You're naive and blind! You must live in a bubble if you believe there aren't any Hispanic people in this city. I hope I never have to be treated by you because you obviously have no clue what's going on out there much less where you work.
  • by @Ashley on Apr 11, 2011 at 06:47 PM
    Thats racist and sterotyping. I'm not Mexican or even hispanic but I am well informed and know that there isn't even a Mexican Mafia in Colorado Springs, heck there are few hispanic in this state let alone just Mexicans. Also D20 has alot of Caucasian(white people) in which are making and selling this horrible drug. I work at a hospital here in the Springs and most of the people that come in for drug help are on meth and they admit they're dealers are normally white and fairly wealthy(drugs aren't cheap).
  • by Betty Location: KKTV on Apr 10, 2011 at 07:39 AM
    For all those who would like to learn more... parents and kids alike... Joanie with Insight Services is holding a free, informational meeting. It gives those who are in counseling and treatment now a chance to interface with those who are new to addiction and looking for resources. The meeting will be Saturday, April 30th from 10 am to noon. Insight Services is located at 115 E. Costilla. Insight will help families navigate the various choices available in our community. Betty Sexton, KKTV.
  • by Ashley Location: Rockrimmon on Apr 9, 2011 at 10:28 PM
    I never post on these things but I feel like I have an obligation. This is crazy. Just because you can not see what is happening does not mean it is not happening. Heroine is everywhere. It has been for years in ballons from the mexican mafia.It has been at the nicest schools Cheyenne Mountain High and D20. The Mexicans are careful at what they do. Those are the people the police need to target. They are ruining are youths lives. I have seen many lives destroyed. I have seen people die but people never mention it. This is one of the first times I have heard a story on it. We need to help colorado springs because are youth are not going to make it if we dont.
  • by Mom Location: Briargate on Apr 9, 2011 at 12:13 PM
    Kids say that getting drugs at school is easier than getting a candy bar out of the vending machine. Denial is just as lethal as heroine! Speak the truth, do the right thing, make a change, help someone stay alive! Wake up D20! Trying to protect your reputation by hiding the reality of how serious this pandemic domestic warfare is on our kids keeps dealers at schools in business and destroys our youth! Thank you KKTV for being determined to reveal the truth and save our sons and daughters from this evil of our times! Do not sleep folks, keep vigil.
  • by Ann on Apr 9, 2011 at 10:48 AM
    the problem runs deep here in D20. I agree with the other parent,D20 is ready to condem not help the situations and in the mean time we are losing our kids
  • by Jayson Location: Colorado Springs on Apr 8, 2011 at 03:06 PM
    My son became addicted to black tar heroin and has been sober now 310 days and counting. Our resources in Colorado Springs were limited but with a referral from the school the kind staff at Conspire! drug screening company counseled and provided us with options and a resource sheet. We tried the drug testing kits from the store but our son found ways to cheat on them. Conspire told us what to look for and provided us with professional kits. If anyone is out there and needs help, you should refer to Conspire. They are a direct link to saving our son's life. Thank you KKTV for airing such a compelling and eye opening story, you're saving lives. Sincerely, Dr. Chancer
  • by baker Location: co springs on Apr 8, 2011 at 02:20 PM
    Good article except our child got caught up in this mess at Dist 20 and they did nothing to help and i mean nothing! if anything they made the problem worse.
  • by Julie Location: Colorado Springs (Briargate) on Apr 8, 2011 at 08:04 AM
    Thanks for airing this story. My son started using in November of 2009, we found out in June of 2010. We had everything taken from our house, even our bank accts were emptied several times. We finally found him a Rehab in Jacksonville, Fl that saved his life. There is truely nothing in Colorado that tried to help. It also affects the family and we need help as well but there are no Narc-anon meetings in the springs at all. and al-anon, is not what we need. He is now 77 days sober and in a sober house in Fl. The cartel is huge here and no one is safe. The things we have learned this past year is amazing and sad. Finally people are starting to become aware!
  • by Chief Location: WPHS on Apr 8, 2011 at 06:19 AM
    Outstanding report. Black Tar is a threat to every at risk kid in the region.
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