Dr. Christopher Holstege,  Chief of the Division of Medical Toxicology, shares:

There are numerous stories associated with heroin and many blur together. However, one that haunts me was a 17-year-old girl who presented to the ED and who I cared for after a heroin overdose.

I had talked with her parents who were exceedingly distraught and had relayed that she was introduced to heroin by her boyfriend. The parents were desperately trying to keep her away from the boyfriend and trying to get her help for her addiction. Her opioid addiction had completely disrupted their family, which appeared to be a typical middle-class family, and they were considering moving to try to get her away from those providing the heroin.

When I talked with the 17-year-old alone about her heroin addiction, she kept repeating over and over again while rocking on the ED stretcher, “I hate the drug, I hate the drug…” as she knew it was destroying her and her family. But then she would switch almost to a different persona from the one stating that she hated the drug and then would begin repeating “I love the drug, I love the drug…” She vacillated back and forth between saying those repetitive phrases of hating it and loving it.

It truly epitomized the addictive power of heroin. She knew it was destroying her and her family, but she constantly craved the drug and stated that she would do anything to get heroin for the “amazing” high she felt from it.

If you are seeking treatment for yourself or someone else, contact Region Ten at 434-972-1800 or if someone is in immediate danger, call 911 for emergency services. The Blue Ridge Poison Center, located at the UVA Health System and staffed by Emergency Medicine personnel, can answer questions regarding medication mistakes and the consumption of other substances–the center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222.