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Tuesday
Oct192010

Hooked: Seattle High School Battles Heroin Addiction

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SEATTLE) -- Officials at Stanwood High School outside Seattle are fighting a bigger battle than just making sure their students graduate. They're battling heroin addiction.

Nearly 50 students at the school are hooked on heroin. Abigail Achison, 17, dropped out of Stanwood and gave into the drug.

"After the first time, I was completely hooked," Achison told ABC News. "Some people start out slowly with other drugs. I just did heroin once and I couldn't stop."

School officials and community members organized a town hall meeting Monday to raise awareness and rally around their teens.

"It's all of our problem," Lloy Schaaf, assistant superintendent of the Stanwood-Camano School District, said. "We all need to own it and we all need to do something about it."

The problem of heroin addiction in Seattle is a growing one. A middle school janitor was found earlier this year with 60 bags of heroin. Two other dealers were arrested weeks later near a suburban Seattle soccer field.

The drug's affordable price and increasing accessibility help its popularity among teens, experts say.  Kids can buy a small bag of heroin for as little as $5.

Other U.S. suburbs are battling a growth in heroin abuse, as well. There have been more heroin overdose deaths in Ohio this year, for instance, than deaths on the highway. And there has been a five-fold increase in heroin overdoses and death in Charlotte, N.C.

The explosion of heroin use by suburban teens isn't by accident. Drug dealers are strategically marketing the drug using popular brand names such as Chevrolet or Prada. Dealers will even put the logos of blockbuster films such as "Twilight" on heroin bags. A dealer might even distribute the drug for free, to get teens addicted.

Another reason for the rise in heroin use is that other drugs such as OxyContin have become harder to obtain as a result of stricter guidelines enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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