Recovering Santa Rosa addict describes descent into heroin use

Plenty of middle-class kids in Santa Rosa got addicted to prescription pain pills in high school, but it wasn't like committing crimes or shooting heroin — that was for street junkies, said O.G., a former Montgomery High School student.

The serious crimes and heroin, those would come after high school.

"My story's not unique," said O.G., 23, a lifelong Santa Rosa man who now is successfully working through a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program.

Meeting recently in a downtown coffee shop, he told his story of high school addiction to pills and how it led to crimes, arrests, shooting up heroin and, eventually, a near-fatal overdose.

Now, he has one final chance to clean up his life. If he fails, he knows he will be sent to prison.

His story illustrates the new face of heroin addiction in Sonoma County. Like O.G., a growing number of heroin addicts are teens and young adults who come from middle-class and upper-class neighborhoods, according to local law enforcement and public health officials.

O.G. was about 15 and a sophomore when it all started. The youth was growing up in Bennett Valley, had three close friends and enjoyed playing Little League baseball.

"It started out at Montgomery, dabbling in the pills," said the young man, who asked to be identified by his initials.

One of his friends introduced the foursome to Vicodin pills. The friend's mother initially had given her son some but then cut him off, so he began stealing them from her, said O.G.

When her prescription changed to OxyContin, a more potent synthetic heroin-style narcotic used to relieve severe pain, the four friends began dividing up one pill each day, continuing to go to class and play sports.

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