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Intersections: Addiction exacts a painful family toll

May 14, 2012|By Liana Aghajanian

This is the second in a four-part series exploring the impacts of heroin use on the greater Glendale area.

Anne Fisher and her family moved to La Crescenta from Michigan in the early ‘90s. The Los Angeles suburb, with its small-town feel and slow-paced atmosphere, reminded her of home.

“Nothing can go wrong here,” she recalled thinking.

But things did.

Wanting to fit in and unable to deal with the pressures of a relationship ending, her son Raymond tried prescription pills for the first time when he was 17. It was like instant relief, erasing all his problems, he said.

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“Everything that you could be stressing over, or thinking about or worrying about, goes away.”

What followed was an addiction to OxyContin that spiraled out of control, a jump from drug addiction to drug dealing, arrests, court dates, stints in rehab that didn't work and a transition to heroin while he was away getting help last year.

Just like OxyContin, heroin became the love of his life, he said.

“I didn't want to be social. All I wanted to do was get high and make sure that I could get high the next day.”

But the honeymoon phase didn't last long.

“I went from 'This is nice, this is fun,’ to ‘I hate this,’ to ‘I need this',” he said. “It takes over your whole mindset.”

Like most people afflicted with drug addiction, recovery has been a long, brutal process, a battle that sees wins and losses on a weekly basis. And that's the thing with this type of addiction, its ability to create long-term neurological changes dispel any misconceptions about those who use the drug and their ability to leave it behind. Because let's face it, who really wants to be addicted to heroin?

But the drug doesn't just affect addicts. Heroin's far reaching claws makes their families and friends victims, too.

Fisher said having a child with a drug problem is one of the hardest things she's dealt with.

From alienation, to the lying and stealing, to the fear of losing her son to addiction, she's been through it all. Her experience with court-ordered rehab — or what she says are just legal drug houses — and law enforcement has been hellish. She feels uncomfortable leaving her son alone, scared of what she might find when she returns.

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