Heroin In The 'Burbs: Women Moving From Pain Pills To The Hard Stuff

Dec 9, 2013
Originally published on December 9, 2013 9:57 am

When a heroin epidemic swept through North Texas in the 1990s, it left at least two dozen young people dead. Then the drug seemed to go into hibernation.

Now the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says it’s seeing an alarming number of women from affluent Dallas suburbs buying heroin. And, for many, the addiction begins with prescription pain pills.

When Sara Kendall was 14, she injured her leg trying to score a goal playing soccer in Royse City. A doctor gave her a prescription for hydrocodone intended to last two weeks. She finished her pills in just two days.

“It just slows everything down," Kendall said. "And at that time I didn’t know of any other way to slow it down so I decided to do it my own method.”

She began buying pills from classmates whose lockers were like pharmacies – filled with Xanax, Percocet and Valium. Kendall, who’s 26, got hooked fast, and soon she couldn't afford enough pills to cover her habit. That's when she switched to heroin.

“One pill would be $10 to $15," Kendall says, "I could start out getting high on heroin for less than $10 a day.”

In heroin's grip

Kendall never imagined herself doing heroin. Like many of the women using the drug today in North Texas, she grew up in a middle-class family with supportive parents.

But addiction doesn’t care who you are or where you’re from.

“I got really low," Kendall said. "To the point where I was living on the streets.”

She was in and out of jail for misdemeanors, and had her baby in custody before she got help last year at Nexus Recovery Center in Dallas. After getting sober, Kendall moved to Oak Cliff with her son, Jaxon. She frequently visits Nexus to share her story with other women struggling with addiction.

Read more about Kendall, as well as the issues surrounding heroin use among North Texas women, on KERA's Breakthroughs blog.

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