Recovering heroin addict talks about reality of opioid epidemic - CBS46 News

Recovering heroin addict talks about reality of opioid epidemic

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Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the country may be making progress fighting the opioid epidemic.

The number of overdoses dropped in 14 states over a 12-month period ending in July 2017, but Georgia was not on the list. Georgia ranks 11th in prescription opioid overdoses.

The CDC says the people at the highest risk to become heroin addicts are between the ages of 18-25 and are addicted to prescription pain killers, cocaine or alcohol.

Here’s the story of one young man who became addicted to painkillers when he was a teenager and is now living with the consequence.

Brennan Ross said he turned to heroin when the pain meds became too costly. Then he started shooting up three times a day, calling it a feeling he liked but one he knew he would hate for the rest of his life.

Just off the tracks, some 30 miles north of Atlanta, the talk of the town over a hot meal is what to do about the opioid crisis in Cherokee County.

“I’ve seen death,” Ross said. “I mean, I’ve seen it. And no one does anything.”

Ross is a recovering heroin addict. He’s been addicted to opioids for seven years. He is 23 years old.

“Well, I got injured in my soccer league and they put me on hydrocodone, and from there I just kept experimenting,” he said.

And just like that, Ross went from an aspiring college athlete to living in one of Atlanta’s most dangerous, drug-ridden neighborhoods known as The Bluff.

“I lived with six other people in an abandoned trailer just so I could be closer to where you could get it from,” he said. “I’ve just seen multiple people die this year. I believe I’m at 13 or 14 people that have died, and two people are really close to me.”

After multiple visits to the hospital, rehab and jail, Ross is trying to turn his life around with the help of his sister.

“I hate just sitting there and hearing people complain about things and they’re not doing anything about it, and I feel like I’m that person that can do something about it and I will,” Lauren Ross said.

Lauren Ross is a senior at River Ridge High School in Woodstock. For a class project, she hosted a dine-out and is organizing a 5K run to fund the Keely Foundation.

The ultimate goal is to build a recovery center for drug addicts.

“It’s paramount,” said Keely Foundation Founder Michelle Neese.” “If we don’t get an after-rehab center built where we can keep these young people in a sober living environment and learn how to socialize in sober living, then the chances of their relapse are going to be even higher.”

The time is now for Ross to get his life back on track. He’s been sober for two months and counting.

“Something has got to be done or else it’s going to keep getting worse and worse,” he said.

Ross said it will be a long road to rebuild his life after stealing from family and friends to support his drug habit. 

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