August 15th, 2012

Young painkiller abusers increasingly turning to heroin

With the steady rise of prescription drug abuse across the state, young pill addicts are succumbing in increasing numbers to another vice: heroin.

For 22-year-old Anna Taylor from Dana Point (pictured), the path to heroin addiction began by pilfering a family member’s medicine cabinet. More than 70% of first-time abusers of prescription pain relievers obtain the drugs from friends or relatives for free, according to a recent federal analysis.

“I don’t want to be the 90 percent that relapse,” said Taylor, who said she’s been sober for nearly three months. “I want to be the 10 percent where I make it. I want to remember my life,” she said.

Read the powerful story, produced in collaboration with KQED News, on the rise in heroin-related overdoses among California’s youth here.

Do you know a loved one dealing with heroin or painkiller addiction? Visit our resource guide to learn more and let us know how we might be able to create a more effective toolkit for teachers, families and friends who want to share information on handling opioid and heroin addiction. 

Photo by Daniel A. Anderson/California Watch

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California Watch, the largest investigative journalism team operating in the state, was launched in 2009 by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting. Areas of coverage include education, health and welfare, public safety, the environment and the influence of money on the political and regulatory process.