Heroin in Suburbia: New Face of Addiction

The next several years, Freeman and his wife said, became a nightmare. Danielle stole money from his diving business in Quincy, Mass., a blue collar city outside Boston. She lived for a time in motels, between stints in rehab. She is now in jail on a probation violation after she left a sober house sponsored by a drug court, her lawyer said.

She faces several years in prison if she is not accepted back into the drug court program. Danielle had used other drugs and had struggled with mental illness before her problems with heroin, her mother said.

"There was no end to what she could have become," Freeman said. "Now she's locked up in a women's prison. She hasn't seen her kids in over a year. It crushed my family and it's ruined her family."

Danielle was arrested in 2006 for allegedly stealing checks and credit cards from her father's company, after her father turned her in to the police. She admitted in drug court that there was enough evidence to convict her of larceny, check forgery and improper use of a credit card, according to the Quincy court clerk's office, and was placed on supervised release.

"And we don't see any end in sight," Freeman said.

Both Lauren and Danielle had used other drugs before using painkillers.

Experts say it is easier to overdose on heroin than on prescription pills, which have regulated dosages. Emergency room visits due to heroin use grew from 47,000 in 2003, eight percent of total drug-related emergency room visits, to 164,000, or about 20 percent of the total, in 2005, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, which monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits and drug-related deaths.

Heroin addicts have much trouble staying clean, with some studies showing relapse rates as high as 75 percent after treatment.

Lauren, now out of rehab and clean for several months, said she relapsed several times. She said once she began using drugs regularly, she found she had easy access to prescription pain killers and heroin in her tony suburb. "I just had to call up one of my friends. I just had to go around the corner," she said.

As her addiction escalated, she said began taking more and more money and jewelry from her family and friends. "You would see jewelry and you would just have to take it," she said. "No matter where you were. You just see it as drugs. Any rational thought process is out the window."

"She was my daughter and I loved her, but at the same time I hated her at that moment so much for what she had done to her family," said her mother, Valerie.

Lauren is now working and hopes to be a lawyer. "I come from a good family. You never imagine yourself stealing from your own family. You never imagine yourself as a heroin addict. But it grabs onto you and it doesn't let go."

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