Recovering Heroin Addict Explains Why You Should Care That Overdose Deaths Have Tripled

The CDC says heroin overdose deaths have skyrocketed since 2010.

"I realized when I was waiting in shackles and handcuffs and saw my parents' faces," she said. "I said, 'I'm going to get clean.' I was clean for six months."

She relapsed in December, but relapsing is part of recovering, Kiyla's father, Phil, explained to ABC News, which is only identifying them by their first names to protect their privacy. But not everyone she's met on her journey to recovery has survived. A young girl Kiyla met during her last stint in detox died not long after leaving the center, she said.

"This past year has been the worst I've ever seen," said Learn to Cope founder and CEO Joanne Peterson, adding her organization has 16 chapters in Massachusetts. "We've seen more loss this past year than we've ever seen."

Adults between the ages of 25 to 44 had the highest rate of fatalities from heroin-related overdoses, according to the CDC report.

"It looks like there are more heroin addicts in their 20s, 30s, 40s," Shrand said. "They think people outgrow it. No. People die. That's why you don't have as many 50-year-old heroin users. Because they die."

Her friends told her to stop, but she was convinced she wasn't addicted until she started experiencing withdrawal symptoms when she wasn't using heroin.

Now at an inpatient rehabilitation center, Kiyla is ready to recover. She said she, too, has heard about addict friends overdosing and dying.

"It drives me to get clean because I don't want to die," she said. "It scares me for my friends that are still active in addiction."

Although Kiyla and her father are glad that heroin addiction is being studied, they say families need more resources to help their loved ones recover, and they need more education to prevent children from experimenting with drugs in the first place.

"This disease won’t happen to you if you don't pick up that first one," she said. "If I knew I was going to get sick, my life was going be s***, all this stuff about addiction that I know now, I think it would have stopped me."

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