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Heroin Addiction: A growing epidemic - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Heroin Addiction: A growing epidemic

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It's estimated that there are 150,000 new heroin users every year.  A number that some experts say continues to grow.  

The issue was recently brought to life after Oscar winner and Hollywood actor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, recently died from a heroin overdose. HIs death is helping to shed new light on an old and deadly habit.  

"It occurred to me that Phillip Seymour Hoffman died in that bathroom alone and the last thing he saw was darkness, " said recovering addict Claire Madden.

Madden is also a counselor at The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in Shreveport..  Not only is she a recovering heroin addict, but she's seen how the drug can kill.
"I had a client who died on Christmas Day alone in a house. An abandoned house and she died just trying to stay warm, " said Madden.

Madden hopes by speaking out about the issue and her past that it will help someone else.
Someone else who's seen how heroin addiction can destroy lives is Asst. Professor of LSU Emergency Medicine and Director of the Louisiana Poison Control Center, Dr. Mark Ryan.
He says heroin use is on the rise.

The drug is an illegal depressant and a highly addictive drug.  It's both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiates.  Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed of certain varieties of poppy plants. 

"We've seen an increase in heroin in the state as a whole. In fact, in the last 6 years, it's tripled, " said Ryan.

Ryan says it's partly because the drug is cheap. He says a bag of heroin or about 100 milligrams costs between seven and ten dollars. Afghanistan is still a major supplier of heroin but in the last two years, Mexico, has stepped up as the number two supplier. 

"We used to think of it being a younger disease where just 20-year- old's were abusing heroin but about 1/3 of deaths every year are from people using heroin who are 40 or older.  You're seeing deaths in people 50, 60 plus years old, so heroin is now everywhere and affects everybody.  "

"Shame keeps you quiet and guilt keeps you high, and that we have in common. No matter how much money you make. And honestly it's your mother, your daughter, your teacher, your doctor. Or an Oscar winning actor, but we all have the same thing in common; the shame and the guilt," said Madden.

Click here for more on the signs and symptoms to look for in someone who may be using heroin.

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