Heroin Addict Beginning to See a Life 'Without Drugs'

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After two heroin overdoses and five relapses, Dan Gordenstein says he's starting to experience times when "I don't feel as though there's no life without drugs." Gordenstein's mother, Debbie, was desperate to help her son, but when she found a rehab center for him, he threatened to run away. "My stomach sank," she said, but her persistence paid off.

Gordenstein eventually sought help at Cross Keys Retreat, a group facility in his home state of Massachusetts that was founded by two former addicts. Gordenstein said the only way he can show his mother he is sorry for his "behavior" is "by getting better."

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study in June that highlighted the changing face of heroin users. While past decades showed a mix of races using heroin, 90 percent of people who began using in the past decade are white, and many live outside of major cities, the study found. Heroin is more widely used by a great variety of groups because of the "high" it produces and because it is less expensive than prescription drugs, according to JAMA.


— Kate Snow and Elisha Fieldstadt