Sam never thought he’d try heroin. In fact, the idea of it freaked him out.
The 21-year-old from Shakopee was a straight A student until 11th grade, when he started drinking alcohol and smoking pot. And despite his new habits, he managed to graduate with his classmates and start college.
After six months, however, he dropped out due to drug and alcohol use, and his life took a drastically different turn.
“I moved into an apartment in the low-income part of Shakopee … everything was really cool,” Sam (who identified himself only with his first name) told about 75 people at a heroin education meeting Thursday at St. Mark’s Catholic Church.
Living with two roommates, Sam said they all had the same goal: Get as messed up as they could at night and then work together the next day.
One day, Sam found one of his roommates smoking heroin in a bedroom. He did not partake.
“I had been using drugs and alcohol, pills, at the time, but when I thought of hard drugs like cocaine, meth – those were no-nos,” he said.
Eventually, he said it was always around and he decided to try it one night while drinking with his roommates. It appealed to him because he could smoke it instead of using a needle to inject it.
“The best feeling of euphoria just came over me,” he recalled about that first use. “Everything was perfect.”
It was the only drug he ever tried, he said, that made all his worries disappear. He added that, emotionally at least, he was immediately hooked.
After that first time, he said things were okay. He was using, but working and paying his bills. Fast forward three months, though, and it was a different story.
He lost his job, because one day when he was high, "staying home and nodding out just sounded so much better.”
He and his roommates talked about selling heroin to subsidize their habit, but Sam said, instead, he gave his only asset – a 42-inch flat screen television – to his roommates in lieu of rent, and to have his heroin fix every day.
“Then, one day I woke up and my roommates were yelling at each other over me,” he said.
One confronted him because Sam was talking about stopping heroin.
“He couldn’t understand,” Sam said. “I thought we were really close (but) he chose heroin over me and said I had to leave.”
By this point, Sam said he had hit his rock-bottom.
“I turned 21 on Sept. 15 and my parents, grandparents came from out of state, to throw me a barbeque,” he said. “I didn’t show up. I didn’t even text them back.”
He said he called his mom the day of the roommate confrontation, after not contacting her for months, and told her he wanted to go to treatment.
“I was lucky I had my parents’ support,” he said.
After four days of detox, Sam completed a 21-day treatment program at Fairview Riverside. He said he’s been sober on all fronts since Dec. 8.
He now lives with his parents and attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings and in addition, Gamblers Anonymous meetings, weekly. He said it’s good to get his thoughts out with a group of people who understands.
He said he also stays away from people he associated with in his using days.
“If I get a message from one of them, I just ignore them,” he said. “I’ve come a long way in the past seven months.”