What to do when you think a loved one is using heroin

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Thursday, May 18, 2017
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If you are worried someone close to you is using heroin, here's a list of resources to help you and your family get the help needed.

Heroin use has increased across the US among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels.

WATCH: ABC11's town hall on 'Addiction: Hidden in plain sight'

Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How to get rid of your pills

- Durham County Sheriff has a pill drop off/disposal in the lobby of the courthouse

- Durham police have a drop off in the lobby of police hq

- Raleigh police don't have a "permanent" drop off but run quarterly pill drop off events

Who is most at risk of heroin addiction?

- People who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers

- People who are addicted to cocaine

- People without insurance or enrolled in Medicaid

- Males

- People who are addicted to marijuana and alcohol

- People living in a large metropolitan area

- 18 to 25 year olds

This mom says to keep talking to your children about the dangers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What to look for if you believe someone in your home is using heroin:

Heroin is usually smoked, snorted, or injected. You might find remnants of the drugs or the paraphernalia of drug use left behind. Heroin itself may be a powdery substance that can look either off-white or dark brown.

Black tar heroin is nearly black and is sticky instead of powdery.

You might find syringes or small pipes. A person dissolving the drug and injecting it might also leave dirty spoons and lighters around. A person injecting also needs a device to cause the veins to enlarge, so there may be rubber tubing or belts found in the area where he or she is using the heroin.

Your child may have flushed skin, dry mouth, difficulty communicating or following a conversation, nausea and/or vomiting, itchy skin, and slowed or shallow breathing.

If you suspect your child or someone in your home is using heroin, you need to get a Naloxone rescue kit. Naloxone is a medication that reverses opioid overdoses.

He said he didn't see any signs before his son's death
Keeping tabs on your kids' interests and activities is crucial
Friends encouraged her to stop denying her daughter's drug use
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

We sat down with experts in on our community to talk about the heroin epidemic. Meet the panelists:

Colleen Bridger, MPH, Ph.D., Orange County Health Director

Colleen Bridger started as the Orange County Health Director in November 2011. In this capacity she is responsible for implementing policy and programs aimed at improving the health of the population of Orange County, North Carolina. She has 2 decades of experience as a Local Health Director, first in Stokes County and then in Gaston County North Carolina.

In Gaston County, she ran one of the largest health departments in the state, managing over 20 different programs, 225 employees and a budget of nearly $20,000,000. Under her leadership, all three Health Departments have won numerous awards including multiple consecutive Ralph Ketner awards for Innovation in Government, and multiple GlaxoSmithKline Child Health Recognition awards.

She is the current President of the North Carolina Health Director's Association where she runs point on statewide issues affecting all 85 local health departments in the state. Dr. Bridger is adjunct faculty at the Gilling Global School of Public health and teaches a course on Public Health and Systems Thinking in the Health Policy and Management Department.

To get in touch with this panelist, click here.

Tessie Castillo, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator, Raleigh, NC

Since 2010, Tessie Castillo has served as Advocacy and Communication Coordinator for NCHRC. She is the agency's only registered lobbyist and has successfully advocated for several new laws pertaining to overdose prevention, naloxone access, law enforcement needle-stick injury prevention, and the legalization of syringe exchange programs.

She produces the majority of NCHRC's media articles on harm reduction, drug policy reform, criminal justice and law enforcement issues and has been published in Slate, Salon, The Fix, and AlterNet. She is also a regular contributor on harm reduction topics to The Huffington Post.

Captain Chris Atack, Captain of Operations, Carrboro Police Department

Captain Atack is in charge of the Patrol Division and the Critical Incident Unit.

To contact this panelist, click here.

ABC11 held a heroin discussion panel

List of treatment facilities around the Triangle:

Click on the treatment facility's name to visit its website

Raleigh treatment centers:

Legacy Freedom

North Carolina Alcohol Drug Treatment.

First Step Services

Healing Transitions

Durham treatment centers:



Sunrise Recovery Resource Center

Chapel Hill treatment centers:

Freedom House Recovery

In-Patient Drug and Alcohol programs

Fayetteville treatment centers:

Carolina Treatment Center of Fayetteville

Fayettville Communicare

Drug Rehab of Fayetteville

Treatment options for his son
Getting her son into treatment was stressful

More testimonials from parents who have been dealing with the heroin epidemic in their own home:

How one parent says you can potentially stop your child from using
She questions how her son became an addict
He says children need protection, not privacy
Addicts will go 'to the end of the earth' to feed their habit

READ MORE: "Heroin? Not my child!" - The I-Team delves into NC's drug epidemic