Oxy: Quick trip to heroin 11/11/10

Look closely at this picture. There's a sadness in this girl's eyes, but nothing about the photo tells you what she's hiding.

Widen out and you'll see the truth. This teenager is a masterful addict, skilled in the art of slipping out of her cozy Carmel Valley home, driving straight to the border, smiling past guards and disappearing into the seedy streets of Tijuana.

She wants a fix and she'll do anything to get it. Stefany is her name. She wasn't talking then, but she is now.

“I dabbled in other drugs, and once I did Oxy it never stopped,” she said. “My day consisted of waking up, and if I had the money I'd go get it (Oxy). If I didn't have the money, I'd figure out a way to get money. I would have done anything to get money. Once I got the money I'd go meet up (with a dealer), get my stuff, go home and sleep. It was like that for about a year.”

It eventually led to heroin.

“The price didn't keep me from doing Oxy, it was the fact I wouldn't get high off of it anymore.”

It didn't take long for Stefany to build up that kind of tolerance. About two months, by her estimation.

“I got sick for the first week, and then after that you don't get sick… it just makes you feel normal. (At the end) I was up to about 10 beans (Oxy pills) per day.”

Ten beans a day at $60 plus per pill is tough to finance here in the U.S. Stefany heads south of the border 5 times a day, and there are 50 kids who will do the same thing every day of the week. They are looking for Oxy, and they'll do anything to get it. They'll go through the rotating horizontal bars of the border turnstile, knowing the risk they're taking could land them behind the vertical bars in the back seat of a police cruiser.

“When I was really bad I went (to Mexico) up to five times per day. It didn't scare me because I was so used to it. I got away with it so much. I probably went every day for about a year.”

After a dizzying cycle of drugs, rehab and jail, Stefany decided on her own she had to kick (quit).

“It doesn't work if your family 'makes' you get sober. You have to do it for yourself,” she said.

Stefany's mother, Michelle, couldn't be prouder, but the pain of what they've been through weights heavy.

First there was fear, then denial, and through it all a determination to get her daughter back.

“I didn't really notice signs at first because she was still doing well in school and she was still playing softball,” Michelle said. “I was in denial for a very very long time. Until she got into it so bad, and it was too late for me to help her.”

Michelle says the family endured years of Stefany stealing from them to finance her habit.

“There's a lot of enabling going on because it was so hard as a mom to see her suffer when she came down and needed a high. We forced her to go to rehab, we've spent thousands and thousands of dollars on rehab, and she didn't want it. It never worked. I would find syringes in her room and in her car. I was losing her, definitely. You have friends that say ‘just let her go, lock the door, don't let her come back, turn your back on her, let her hit rock bottom.' And then there's other people that say ‘you've gotta be there for her.' I was so disappointed in her time after time after time. It's exhausting. I was there. I promised her I wouldn't go to jail and visit her if she went back. But I did. She's my daughter.”

Stefany swears she'd be dead or homeless and still using if it weren't for her parents' support. Michelle was convinced of the former.

“Going through six years of this, I swore I would be burying her. I planned for that day.”

Today, Stefany is clean, sober, in therapy, working, in love and loving life. And her message to any child who thinks Oxy is fun? Don't do it. It will ruin your life.

Categories: KUSI