Heroin makes deadly new mark
August 21, 1996
From Correspondent Robert Vito
MIAMI (CNN) -- Heroin use in America is rocketing to new highs as purer forms of the drug have become available, making it possible to smoke or snort the drug.
Federal drug officials point to the number of emergency room visits by people who have smoked or snorted heroin as an indication of the recent rise in the drug's use.
In 1988, 1,250 people were admitted to hospital emergency rooms for problems arising from heroin ingestion. That number rocketed to more than 27,000 in 1994, an increase of over 2,000 percent.
Authorities believe the resurgence in heroin use is a result of no longer needing to inject the drug to take it. With the purer forms available on the street today, a user can inhale the drug and get the same high without the telltale needle marks.
Law enforcement officials like Orange County, Florida, Sheriff Kevin Beary say the drug's ease of use is making it popular among young people who would normally not be taken in by the drug culture.
Police in Orlando say heroin has claimed the lives of more teens in their city in the last year than in all other Florida cities combined. It may be the highest per-capita manifestation of the drug's deadly powers in the nation. Local authorities say it's an epidemic.
Michael Apple was an 18-year-old straight-A student from the Orlando area until he swallowed a fatal dose of heroin two days before his high school graduation.
His mother, Debra Gillam, never saw his tragic death coming, even though he had confessed experimenting with the drug a month before he died.
Apple told his mother he'd had a bad experience with heroin and would never use it again. She believed him. Now she wonders if there was anything else she could have done.
"Maybe if I'd asked more questions, or maybe if my eyes would have been just a little bit wider ... I never dreamed he'd do it again," said Gillam.
Drug counselor Brian Faison is one man no longer fooled by the seductive drug. The former heroin user, clean for 12 years now, calls it a nightmare not to be dismissed lightly.
"People have no idea, no idea of the nightmare, the nightmare they are about to embark on if they have any involvement with heroin at all," said Faison. "And those nightmares don't go away."
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.