One Teenage Girl’s Slide from OxyContin Addiction to Heroin
Lauren Waldemar was only 12 when she began her terrible slide from a normal, happy schoolgirl to a serious OxyContin addict and, from there, to the ultimate bottom – life on the street as a heroin addict.
A recent story in the Minneapolis StarTribune tells how Lauren spent a couple of troubled years after her parents divorced. It included minor scrapes with the police – like going joyriding in her mom’s car – but they could have been put down as fairly typical “teenage rebellion”. But it progressed, until she finally left school at only 14.
Like so many kids that age, Lauren tried drinking and smoking marijuana. But her need for new thrills and escapes led her to try more than most kids. “I was willing to go further and further each time to find out what drug would make me feel the best,” she said. It all led to a risky life-style, and it continued until she was 17 without any major incidents. But at 17, her whole life changed.
Lauren was at a friend’s house, she said, when a boy offered her “a little blue pill”. He showed her how to burn it and suck the smoke up through a straw. For Lauren, it was the greatest escape she’d experienced yet. “When I tried it I fell in love with it. Just the way it made me feel. It made me feel numb. It was the best feeling I had ever felt in my life,” she told the StarTribune.
The little blue pill was OxyContin, the infamous prescription painkiller that has caused countless addictions and overdose deaths, for more than a decade. Heedless of any dangers, Lauren wanted more, and more and more. And before long she was fully addicted, a slave to the drug and to the harsh economics of prescription drug addiction. At upwards of $75 a pill or more for OxyContin, Lauren was stealing and pawning her parents’ belongings and committing other crimes to support her growing habit.
Then came heroin. Lauren was 18 when a heroin dealer suggested that she could get just as high for a lot less money using heroin. It was impossible to refuse. She met the dealer at a downtown motel, and watched as he cooked the drug in a spoon and filled a syringe. She was too nervous to inject it herself, so she let the dealer inject her instead. It was her first hit of heroin, and a long way from being her last.
“Once I tried shooting up heroin for the first time, it was over,” she said. “I just kind of sat back and let it hit me. I loved it.” She said that the “numbing, good feeling” was everything she was looking for. And it sent her spiraling into a two-year addiction that sent her to jail three times and nearly ended her life.
It should be noted that, by the time Lauren tried her first hit of heroin, she had already been to several treatment programs. She was also attending a special high school, called Sobriety High, for kids with drug and alcohol problems. And it was another kid at that school that led her to heroin.
For the next two years, she shot up heroin sometimes alone, sometimes with others. She shot up in gas station bathrooms, in her car, anywhere she could be alone. She was in and out of detox and rehab, in and out of jail, and nothing was working. Then came the kind of message that is pretty tough to ignore.
One day, Lauren took some Xanax, an antianxiety drug, and then shot up some powerful “China white” heroin, not the usual brown Mexican she was used to. And then, she shot up again. Lauren passed out and eventually stopped breathing. When the paramedics reached Lauren, her lips were blue. She was saved by a shot of naloxone, which cancelled the effects of the opioid.
Lauren was sent back to jail for violating an earlier probation order. A smart probation officer sent Lauren to the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge program. And the good news is, it’s working. She’s been sober for nearly 6 months, is winning back her mom’s trust, and she’s hoping her story will help others from using heroin.
“Going from getting high every day to going sober is like totally foreign,” Lauren told the StarTribune. “It takes time for the fog to clear. I’m excited. I’ve never woken up and been excited.”
The lesson from Lauren Wildemar’s experience is clear: Recovery is possible, no matter how bad the situation, and no matter how many times you’ve tried.
If you or someone you know is in trouble with prescription drugs, or street drugs like heroin, call right away and speak to one of our experienced counselors. We can help set you up with just the right prescription drug addiction help program for OxyContin addiction.