ó Dennis Chambers was introduced to heroin on spring break
in 2013. "Dude, itís cool," a buddy told him.
"Why donít you just try it?"
He was a
freshman at Seton Hall University, 18, and had been battling
prescription painkiller addiction for two years.
the summer, Chambers commuted daily from Mantua, N.J., to
Camden, N.J., to feed what quickly became a heroin habit.
made all my troubles go away, but it brought me to the lowest
point imaginable," he says. "I had everything going
for me. And I lost it."
less fortunate heroin addicts ó the gifted actor Philip
Seymour Hoffman comes to mind ó Chambers didnít lose his
to inpatient rehab, stays clean and sober through 12-Step
meetings, and attends community college near Scranton, Pa.
doesnít stop when a person gets out of treatment," says
Randy Brooks Miller, a nurse who works in Kennedy Health
Systemís behavioral health program.
is a lifelong commitment," adds Miller, whose daughter,
27, has been clean and sober for three years.
death of Hoffman, 46, on Feb. 2 has drawn attention to
treatment of drug and alcohol addiction (the actor relapsed
after rehab) and also to heroinís resurgence.
with renegades of jazz and literature in the Ď50s and
briefly made chic by seemingly anorexic fashion models in the
Ď90s, heroin has become a drug of choice among some suburban
teens and young adults, particularly in the Northeastern
seeing an increase in heroin addiction among the young people
who come through our doors," says Harold Williams,
director of clinical services at the Lakeside Recovery Center,
an outpatient program in Sicklerville, N.J.
Chambers, users often start by filching prescription
painkillers from home medicine cabinets. These powerful pills
can cost $50 or more on the street, making heroin at $10 or
less a bag an appealing option.
opiate addiction is no bargain, and recovery is far from easy.
Detox is unpleasant at best; relapse is frequent, although
certainly not inevitable.
biggest myth of all is that people have to want
treatment" in order for it to work, says Stephanie Loebs,
director of medical services at Seabrook House, an inpatient
program near Bridgeton, N.J. "They need treatment."
members also need help, says Chambersí mother, Barbara
Amadei. She teaches English at Clearview High School, where
her son recently spoke to students about addiction.
also recently established a chapter of the support group
Families Anonymous. About a dozen people come to the meetings.
often are ashamed that a child has become hooked on heroin ó
as if anyone could bear the blame for a complex disease that
affects the mind as well as the body.
donít choose to become addicts," Miller says. And
suggesting that addicted people should simply straighten
themselves up, she adds, is akin to telling a clinically
depressed person to snap out of it.
in his sixth month of sobriety, says he relapsed several times
until he finally decided to get serious. "I had never
given recovery a shot," he says. "I decided to take
this opportunity and run with it."
professionals like Williams and Loebs say the success stories
help them keep the faith.