A heroin user speaks
Click here to read more stories of the Gazette's series on heroin and its impact on Rock County.
JANESVILLE John always said he never would do heroin.
He knew people who did. He watched them—older students who started doing heroin in their senior years.
Then in his senior year at Parker High School, John’s friends started doing it. Finally, during second semester, he snorted his first bag.
John—not his real name—wasn’t impressed. The stuff he and his friends could buy in Janesville was “cut” with so much filler that it didn’t pack a punch. Then they forged a connection to a dealer in Rockford, Ill., and started getting “good dope.”
Not only was it more potent, the heroin was 50 percent cheaper than what John and his friends could buy in Janesville.
They would meet their connection on a street or parking lot. “There’d be cars lined up to get it because so many people wanted it,” he said.
John agreed with others who say heroin users aren’t always the typical down-and-out types. He mentioned one young woman he knows: “You would never think she’s doing it. She’s gone to rehab multiple times.”
John said he can easily spot someone who is high on heroin: “You look like a zombie. You’ve got tiny pupils, and your nose is red because you’ve been itching it so much.”
John and most of his friends never injected heroin. They inhaled it. “I knew I’d never bang it, that I’d never shoot up,” he said.
But that didn’t save one of John’s friends, 18-year-old Jacob Mayfield. Mayfield overdosed and died July 3, 2008.
“I hate heroin now,” John said. “I hate the s---.”
He said he can’t understand his friends who still are using.
“I’m like, ‘Jake died so we wouldn’t turn into a bunch of junkies,’” John said. “(They) don’t care.”
John thinks Mayfield’s death scared some teenagers enough so they stopped using or never started, but he knows of a small group of high school students who still use it.
John said he was never a heavy user. And he never felt the craving for a fix. Not until July 4, 2008, the day after Mayfield died. That was the day he felt a strong urge to go get high. He took that as a sign, he said. He stopped using.
John said he knew exactly what he was getting into with heroin. He knew it was addictive.
But there was one thing he wishes he had known: that his friend would die from it.