Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


November 28, 2013

Getting real on teen drug use

Forum opens up dialogue on addiction


Melissa Weiksnar, who graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge with multiple degrees, was unprepared for the stranglehold heroin had on her daughter.

She read from her daughter’s journal: “The real Amy is inside of me. I have to get her back. I feel this drug has taken over my soul. I have to get back to the life I loved. I stand as heroin’s puppet.”

The name of Weiksnar’s book, “Heroin’s Puppet,” chronicles her family’s journey into the dark world of substance abuse, which started with marijuana, graduated to OxyContin and ended with heroin.

The gateway to heroin

Andover Police Sgt. Greg Scott, one of the other panelists, said it is a story he has seen “over and over and over again.” A five-year detective in the town’s substance abuse unit, Scott grew tired of seeing people of all ages getting addicted to prescription drugs and then heroin. So he began asking them their life stories.

Invariably, he said, they started young with marijuana and alcohol.

“I have never spoken to an addict who never smoked weed,” he said. “Every addict I have ever spoken to started out with weed and drinking.”

After that, they pick up on so-called opiates, the official term for drugs like OxyContin, sometimes known as Perc-30s, or Vicodin, also known as Vike or Vitamin V.

“Whatever name you want to call it, it’s the progression to heroin,” he said.

The main reason, he said, is financial. OxyContin pills go for about $30 a pill, or, if bought in bulk, $17 to $20 each. For a person on a two-pill-a-day habit, the cost is as much as $60 a day. Meanwhile, a bag of heroin can be purchased on Broadway in Lawrence any time of day or night for $40 a half-gram or $20 a quarter-gram, he said.

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