LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Some think of heroin as a street drug, but in a matter of minutes, you may be thinking twice about who uses it.
Doctors tell us heroin is in most high schools across Central Arkansas. Alarming numbers also show that Arkansas high school seniors are abusing prescription pills more than any other high schoolers.
A local family knows this all too well. Their heroin-addicted daughter started by popping pills. She's been to five rehab facilities and has overdosed three times. Now, Madeline Tate, 21, is doing everything she can to wean herself off drugs.
Madeline's fight is now a fight to live.
"It was more comfortable not being in Little Rock," she says.
The Central High grad resides in a sober living center in Jackson, Mississippi.
"When I was 15, I tried meth for the first time," she tells us.
From meth to prescription pills, it was just the beginning of her drug use.
"You would do these drugs - would they just not work anymore and you tried heroin?," KARK Reporter Mitch McCoy asks Madeline.
"Yes. After awhile it wasn't and the money it was costing it was like if you got heroin you got more and it was better for the same price," she responds. "I never felt anything like that before in my life and it took me in and I didn't know how to get out."
At 18, Madeline's had her first heroin high, and only a senior in high school.
"How would you shoot?," Mitch inquires.
"My arms, my hands, my feet. I've even done it in my neck before," she explains.
"Did you shoot up in the bathroom at school?, he asks her.
"No, but in the car," she says.
"It's a living hell," says Madeline's mother, Hope Hankins. We first met her in August. She says it's easy now to reflect on her daughter's turning point.
"Changes in the group of friends, who she was dating. I knew he didn't come around like a typical boyfriend," Hope explains.
"It was like, so easy for me to manipulate my mom and tell her I'm doing this and she trusted me," says Madeline.
Her latest stint in rehab comes after not one, not two, but four drug-related arrests in Pulaski County. These are her mugshots from those arrests:
"I wanted to try it all and it was like that first time...just grabbed me," she says.
"It petrifies me," says Denise Marsters, Founder & CEO of The McCoy House. She says the faces of addiction would surprise most. "You would look at them and think 'oh my gosh they have everything they ever wanted'," Marsters says.
Denise says most of the women coming to the McCoy House are educated with an entire life in front of them. But the addiction can be blinding...not only to them but also their loved ones.
"If it's a family member, they're hoping and praying it's not as bad as it is and they'll get out of that phase," says Marsters.
Being sober takes soul searching, from meditating to reading...to preparing for the real world.
"I know that if I'm sitting and I'm bored that's when I want to use the most," Madeline says.
Madeline is required to volunteer twice a week at "The Real McCoy Thrift Store."
"We're going through clothes that have been donated," she explains.
"What gave you that power to say I want to do it for me now?" Mitch asks Madeline.
"I would say sick of being miserable," she answers.
Madeline says she's ready to continue the fight but believes she has the upper hand.
"My wanting, my willingness, to want to be sober this time for sure changed it," she says.
Madeline is more than six months sober...the longest she's ever been clean.
"I feel like I have a chance," she says.
"It's so important," says her mom Hope.
The path from blinding addiction to her ongoing recovery has opened her eyes.
"Now I can see I can actually have a good life. I can have a good relationship with my parents," Madeline adds. "I never want to be where I was," she says. "I'm so much happier now."
Click here for more on The McCoy House.
If you or you think a family member is addicted to heroin or another drug, click here for more on Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas.
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