Recovering heroin addict speaks out on 'epidemic' - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Recovering heroin addict speaks out on 'epidemic'

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The Hollywood spotlight has been somber since news of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death appeared in headlines alongside the word heroin, but the dangerous drug is readily available in Minnesota too.

The reality is this: It's not difficult for anyone to get their hands on the extremely addictive opiate called heroin. That's a truth one recovering addict said he knows too well.

"It started with trying to find acceptance and dealing with a lot of emotional pain when I was young," explained Kallan, whose full name is being retained for privacy. "I found that in prescription opiates."

Although Kallan was able to turn his life around and now speaks out on what he considers to be an epidemic, he remains concerned about how easy it is to access heroin and how addiction begins.

"Heroin is just as easy -- if not easier -- to get than marijuana or alcohol for kids in high school," Kallan said.

Kallan told Fox 9 News that for many people, the most shocking truth about heroin users is that their addictions often start with prescription drugs and end in overdoses.

"It takes over every aspect of your life, and you do whatever it takes to get high," he said.

Kallan himself has survived not one, but two heroin overdoses.

"It's like playing Russian roulette," he said.

After one overdose, Kallan flat-lined in the hospital. He was brought back from the brink, but death is a part of the 25-year-old's experience with addiction.

"Relapse following treatment is common," Dr. Gavin Bart stated.

According to Bart, the risk of relapse is ever present among addicts regardless of how long they have gone without the drug.

"The chances of dying within the first two to four weeks after being discharged is almost nine times greater than that of the general population," he continued.

Parents of recovering addicts, like Todd Barduson, say recent celebrity overdose deaths speak volumes about the prevalence and severity of the drug in today's society.

"The days of Ward and June Cleaver are over," Barduson warned. "You have to be a full participant in your kids' lives."

Kallan said families of those struggling with addiction do have a difficult road, but he offered the following advice:

"I'd recommend just loving the person that's battling the addiction," he said. "Show them love and they'll find help when they're ready."

To learn more about heroin and opiate abuse, Anoka County is hosting two free forums this month. More information can be found online here.

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