Call for Action Investigation: Hooked on Heroin Part II

Dangerous, intense, even exciting.

That's what teenagers tell us about hooking up with drug dealers.

One said, "It was strange. It was against the rules. It was intense. It was something different than going to school everyday."

Users said they'd simply call a dealer, meet in a neighborhood or park, and then exchange money for balloons of black tar heroin. Some told us their first encounter was with dealers who gave it to them for free just to get them hooked.

One told us, "I fell in love with it the fifth time i tried it and I mean I was stuck."

Another said, "I got a kick out of it right away."

I'm told black tar heroin is easy to find in the north end of town, and naturally made its way into District 20 schools.

When school security officers learned about it, they stepped up patrol and held awareness programs for students and parents.

Jim Grayson, the assistant chief of security, said kids believe black tar heroin is exotic.

"In speaking with some of our kids they call this drug opium instead of heroin. Some of them truly don't realize how dangerous it is. In my opinion, a kid considering using heroin ... it's just as dangerous as if they had a loaded gun," Grayson said.

Dr. Judith Reynolds, an addiction medicine specialist in Colorado Springs, said, "dealers have said this is opium so they think that sounds very exotic. Isn't it wonderful to be an opium smoker... not realizing this is garbage heroin."

Reynolds said black tar heroin is anything but exotic; it's an opiate mixed with other ingredients like common painkillers, tranquilizers, even lactose. It's impure, cheap, and easy to get.

She said teens mistakenly believe since they're not shooting up, they won't become addicted.

"The problem is there's this myth that if they smoke... they're not going to get dependent on it and people don't understand that. You're going to change your brain. You have hijacked the normal life sustaining pathways in the brain and it will get you hooked," Reynolds added.

What young users learn is that they soon can't live without the $20 balloons.

Wrapped in foil and plastic, each looks like a small piece of tar, but once users have a match and a pen or straw they're in business.

One user said, "it was definitely something to look forward to. I thought about it all the time."

Another explained, "it started with just one or two balloons you know for the whole day and then it turned into one or two balloons an hour."

And how are they paying for it?

Incredibly, this user told me he got 30 other students hooked just to support his own habit. It's something he now regrets.

He told us, "That's hard to live with everyday... thinking about how many people's lives I've ruined... how many people I got into it and they might not get hope and they could die you know."

One confessed, "I'm going to jail today."

Others embark on a life of crime... stealing from their parents, their friends, then strangers... whoever has cash or valuables.

One user explained, "You lose your sense of morality. The real priority is the next time you pick up. All rationality is out the window."

Kathy Crawford, a facilitator with D-20's Safe and Healthy Schools Committee, said the district offers panel discussions like this one to educate parents and students.

Still, school surveys show 2,000 kids in the district admit to using an illegal substance at least once.

Kathy says, "a poor decision on a Friday afternoon can be a life decision and that's hard."

There are success stories. El Paso County's Drug Court helped one user whose been clean for a year.

The judge congratulates him saying, "Most importantly you have demonstrated that you can be sober, that you know what your triggers are."

The user encourages the others in court saying, "I almost bombed out of the program and had to go to an inpatient and I still made it here... so each and every one of you can get here."

He's now working as a counselor.

He told us, "I have my drive back, my appetite, my sleep."

His mother said, "I look at him and I have him back and he's smart, he's funny, he's in the present because he's been absent in my life for the last six years."

But the road back to recovery is never easy. These kids describe the withdrawal as hell.

One told us, "everything hurts, mostly the muscles, your legs, you feel sick and shaky. I thought I was dying. I couldn't sit, I couldn't lay down, it hurt so bad, I couldn't walk."

That's why everyone we spoke with agrees that it's important for adults to know the warning signs of heroin use.

They are: pinpoint pupils, drowsiness, vomiting, even slurred speech.

The users and parents I talked to hope this information will be a wake up call to others.
They urge parents to double check who their kids are hanging out with and if they're caught lying... seem withdrawn or tired... to not brush it off ... but to do more digging.
Each user knows someone who's died as a result of their habit.
They know it could've been them.

To see Hooked on Heroin Part I click on link below.


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.

Because of the overwhelming response from parents looking for help, Insight is offering a free informational meeting open to everyone interested in learning more about the black tar heroin problem and various treatment options. The meeting is being held Saturday, April 30th from 10 am to noon.

Insight Services:

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

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 treatments.

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

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 sad Location: peregrine on Apr 19, 2011 at 09:46 AM
    I just wish the cops and our justice system would put the drug dealers away when they catch them! We have a known drug dealer in our own neighborhood that has probably supplied and probably is still supplying the students at Air Academy (as well as others), has been arrested for drug use and possesion, and his own habits even declared the two homes he lived in inhabitable because of it, and he is still walking around, free?!! That is SO not right!
  • by @Jared on Apr 14, 2011 at 09:58 AM
    I can tell by your email you are a young punk, you really need to go away!!! Far away!!!
  • by Disappointed Location: COS on Apr 14, 2011 at 09:03 AM
    It is very disappointing to read some of these comments. Everyone is vunerable no matter the age. I am a parent who is actively involved with my kids but that doesn't mean they aren't vunerable to other influences - I teach them right from wrong but peer pressure has gotten this society to a point, everyone is trying to "fit in" and please others. The movie Mean Girls is a prime example of what our youth are dealing with - it is a society of who is better. We need to focus on the youth, not our reputations. It can happen to anyone - I don't care if you say it wouldn't happen to you, everyone has a vunerable point in their life.
  • by what else is new on Apr 13, 2011 at 11:24 PM
    How about that? Hear about some drug abuse in another district like district 2 or district 11 and its nothing but intolerant hatred for them lower class type of people but as soon as it's official that there is a drug problem in their precious rich and pansie schools that the politicians and corporate bigwigs send their brats to, it the wringing of hands on what we can do to stop this from going on, help out those poor unknowledgeable kids. Such hypocrisy and double-standard junk from this so-called religious backwater town. No wonder this place is a joke in this country. Hypocrite chumps.
  • by @baker on Apr 12, 2011 at 08:01 PM
    No need to worry bud, I wouldn't be stupid enough to even start. You Parents are the reason your kids are freaks....why? Because you lack the Parental skills required to take responsibility to teach them anything.
  • by baker Location: co spgs on Apr 11, 2011 at 05:29 PM
    Yes Jared HS kids are doing it and its a big problem at Air Academy even w/ armed security at the gate. Oh and Jacob, I pray you never need help.
  • by Jared Location: cos on Apr 11, 2011 at 02:25 PM
    I can't believe high school kids are doing heroin! When I was in school pot and beer were the things to party with.. but heroin, it would have been very taboo to say the least.
  • by LBasco Location: CoSprings on Apr 11, 2011 at 02:10 PM
    Now this is what should be mhappening when there are isuues in the Community-DIALOGUE. A to all you communicating your dislikes, wants and fears. Maybe with enough of this we can gain some control over what happens in our neighborhoods. If you care-the "hood" flourishes; if you don't care and the problems belong to the City and the cops-then the "hood" diminishes.
  • by C* on Apr 11, 2011 at 12:41 PM
    If there weren't a bunch of junkies - there wouldn't be any drug dealers. Anybody stupid enough to start in with drugs - prescription or not - deserves to suffer. Common sense, reasoning has disappeared!
  • by RJVagabond Location: Rockrimmon on Apr 11, 2011 at 12:40 PM
    See, here's what I don't get. Why do we get wrapped around the axle about whether or not marijuana leads to worse drugs? The real bottom line here is they are all illegal drugs. As in....hey....illegal. Yes the schools need to be aware, proactive and involved but the bottom line it is the responsibility of the parents to teach their kids right from wrong. If it's illegal, DON'T DO IT! I have a neighbor, great dad, clearly loves his kids, spends massive amounts of time with them. A really involved dad, except, I regularly see him blow through every stop sign in our community. He's been know to drink a few beers and then drive. He's almost always on his cell phone while driving. Seen him bend a few other rules, too. If the kids see their parents blowing off the rules, hey, why should they care if something is illegal or not. If it's fun, do it. Who cares about consequences or more importantly, personal responsibility. I realize once a child/adult gets addicted it's a nightmare world but at one point that child/adult made that first decision to try illegal drugs. Something in their value system said it was "ok." When I was a kid I knew in every fiber of my being if I did something wrong and certainly did something illegal, my *** was toast. Result, I've never done illegal drugs - ever. Never drank and drove - ever. Parents, stop with the blinders and do a little active parenting and instead of blaming a school system, a city, or anyone else you can, raise your child with a strong sense of personal responsibility and the rest will take care of itself (and there's a good chance they'll never move back in with you when they're 30 with kids in tow!).
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