Interview With A Teen. Great Family. Outstanding Education. Heroine Addict

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1 Interview With A Teen. Great Family. Outstanding Education. Heroine Addict I recently had the incredible opportunity to interview a young man, Gregor, who very quickly fell into a dependent situation with heroin. Allow me to introduce Gregor. Gregor is 19. He is enrolled in an Ivy League College and comes from an upper middle class family from the suburbs of New York City. From the look of it, he wants for nothing. His parents are happy, they all vacation together, and from the outside - and from Gregor's perspective - they've done everything right. 'They are great parents.' The interview. GW. Thanks for being here and for sharing today. Gregor, How would you describe your upbringing? Gregor: Lucky. I have a great family and friends. I know my parents are always there for me. They push me to do well in school and to make something great out of my life. They are great parents. This has made my mistakes so much worse. GW: When did you start drinking? Gregor: 15. GW: Have you tried other drugs besides heroin? Gregor: Weed. Cocaine. GW: Still? Gregor: No. Rehab scared me out of it. I still drink... but I'm responsible. GW: You sound lucky. Gregor: I am. GW: Can you tell us about your relationship with heroin?

2 Gregor: Yeah. (pause) I screwed up. I was out with 2 of my friends. We started at one friend's house, his parents were out of town. He suggested we all go pick up some heroin. We did. It was euphoric. We kept drinking, I was feeling great. That night I decided to drive home - I was feeling like Superman, ya know? I became disoriented and got lost. I guess I was driving a little erratically and got pulled over. I was arrested for DUI and possession of heroin. I spent the next 24 hours in jail, too afraid to call my parents. Gregor: I didn't know what to do. I had to go to court. "Thank God I was already 18," I kept thinking...this way my parents didn't have to be notified. Thank God it didn't happen in my home town. Thank God I knew how to bury Google searches so when it came out I could get it buried on the 4th page of search engines pretty quickly. I started creating a plan of attack immediately to hide this. GW: Were you successful? Gregor: Yes. Gregor: I waited for the court hearing. Scared. GW: Anymore drug use? Gregor: Yes. The more nervous I got, the worse I felt about myself. My body was screaming for more heroin. My mind wanted to be quieted from all the worry and pressure. I fell into some pretty regular use. GW: Would you call yourself addicted? Gregor: Not at the time. Today, yes. GW: How did you finally get here? Gregor: I was sitting in court with a quarter ounce in my pocket waiting to hear my fate. I wasn't too worried going in because I heard I would just have to do some classes

3 and it would be ex-sponged. I watched addict after addict go up. They were a mess. I could actually feel the heat of the bag in my front pocket. I realized how stupid I was walking in with it. I couldn't figure out why I would make such a bad decision. The people around me were like people I never would have associated with normally. All of a sudden I realized that this bag was more than a drug, it was a leash that I was being led by. I wasn't holding the leash. I had lost control. Gregor: What I expected. Then what I could never have expected. GW: What didn't you expect? Gregor: That I couldn't just quit. GW: How long had you been using at this point? Gregor: Less than a month. GW: How did you get clean? Gregor: I went to my parents for help. It was the lowest point in my entire life. At this point, we talked a lot about the next months. The disappointment, support and tears from his parents. He discussed having to take the first semester off from college to get clean and fighting to keep his place in the school (which is still at question.) We discussed rehab and how it was the most difficult thing he had ever done. According to the NIDA, 23% of first time users become addicted, despite socioeconomic status or education. It is the most rapidly absorbed substance by the brain. Influence Meeting Gregor shocked me, quite frankly. He had it all. I was shocked that a child so educated and aware of the the dangers would still do something so incredibly stupid. His parents did everything to help him succeed. In the next piece of the interview, I asked Gregor to help me understand what could have changed the night "that started it all."

4 GW: You're smart, handsome, have a great family... for all intents and purposes, I would assume you knew better. What made you try it? Gregor: I don't know. (long pause, his eyes tearing up) My mom and dad ask me that all the time. GW: What do you tell them? Gregor: I say "I don't know." GW: Is that the truth? Gregor: (pause) No. I've thought about this a lot, obviously. We talked about it a lot in rehab. There was peer pressure. GW: But you're smarter than that. Gregor: Yes. I am. I felt invincible. I knew I was smart enough to not become addicted. I knew I would only try it one time. I... (pauses to maintain his demeanor) GW: You, what? Gregor: I wanted to defy my parents. It was control. Gregor talked about living under their rules and being the perfect kid. He talked about not being allowed to make mistakes and how his dad's friend helped him get into school. He shared how much he loved his parents and he never wanted to disappoint them. He mentioned having a "Stepford family" that his friends envied. He described it as boring and not very exciting but really very fortunate. "I bet my mother has read every parenting book imaginable!" he chuckled. To be very clear, Gregor would not have changed anything about his life or about how his family raised him. Gregor also shared the stories of both friends that were with him that night. The other first time user did not get addicted and went on with his life. The friend who goaded them to try heroin had a long term addiction with pain killers (2 years, according to Gregor) that started when his sister gave them to him as a junior in high school. Here's his description of what happened to this young man who we will call "Bob."

5 Gregor: Bob was one of those kids that was always looking for something more. He was always bored. His parents have a lot more money than mine and were never around. Drugs are pretty accessible where we live. A lot of kids have money - not that heroin is expensive - and they're always looking for the next challenge. It's like a challenge. He's not a bad kid. Boredom got him in trouble... He loves his parents. he's a regular user now but still goes to school, takes care of what he has to... I'm not sure how much longer. I don't think he can stop. I think he needs a wake up call.

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