tv Al Roker Reporting MSNBC July 16, 2011 9:00am-10:00am PDT
it's the drug that never goes out of style. heroin. >> you'll see doctors, you'll see nurses. you'll see other professionals, wall street types. >> it's found a new generation. >> it's like the warmest blanket on the coldest day. >> where would agents of the drug enforcement administration as they patrol the streets on an undercover heroin operation. >> they got them. they have them. >> on the east coast, heroin doesn't come from afghanistan or southeast asia anymore. >> you're holding $2 million worth of heroin in my hand. >> now it's coming from the place made famous by cocaine and pure enough to kill.
>> that one time that somebody makes a decision to use it, it's like playing russian roulette with your life. >> it's big business coming into the country hidden in unbelievable ways. what's the strangest thing you've seen in heroin smuggling? >> it has to be the liquid heroin inside the puppies. >> and a controversial heroin overdose antidote. you'll see it bring a user back from the edge of death. >> there he is. back from the dead. >> heroin, a deadly drug and a business that is still flourishing and recruiting new customers every day. our kids. >> i watched two of my friends die from it. >> the parents like to say it's not happening so we close our eyes and kids continue to die.
>> heroin is one of the most addictive drugs known. it's cheap. it's easy to get. once a user is hooked, it can be for life. for the drug traffickers who deal in it, it's a hugely profitable business. heroin use is a major problem in the northeastern u.s. and the federal drug enforcement agency is working hard to do something about it. we rode along with the dea in new jersey as undercover agents hit the streets in search of heroin. it didn't take long. >> the surveillance team is all set up. the undercover team will drive up, park his vehicle, walk up to the location. the seller will say, hey, what are you looking for? tell him what he's looking for. he'll make the buy.
we'll jump out and make the arrest. with the black jacket on with the red stripe and the black hat. >> stand by. >> how much you want, 70. cool. >> a bundle. >> let's go down to the corner. >> why don't you come here. >> i'll be back. all right? >> i always think of this, you know, going on at night. here it is broad daylight. >> some locations actually run 24 hours.
>> a lot of them are teetering. they know at some point they could get caught. so they're just waiting for it to happen and hoping it doesn't. all right, guys. they saw the camera. they saw a camera again. he's coming back towards me. >> okay. his man is circling the block. be back in a minute. >> we're good. >> all right bro. >> we're good. >> now what happened? >> undercover made the buy. gave the signal. we're allowing him to walk out
of the area and then we're pulling up to make the arrest. >> we're rolling. >> they've got him. that's affirmative. they have him. >> it's an all too familiar scene. a young man from one of america's inner cities caught in the act of selling what the drug enforcement administration says is heroin to an undercover dea agent. what does this mean? >> well, it's insignificant in the big scheme of things but you have to constantly go after every little bit of it and that's what this was. maybe this person will cooperate and give us the bigger fish. that's what we're looking for. >> you got it? good. >> it's just a stash. what he'll do is he'll keep it there so if he gets jumped on the corner like this they won't find the drugs. well, we just found the drugs.
>> there's actually a brand? they make a brand out of this? >> it's a label that they use, a marketing tool that this is my product. call of duty. so you know where to come back to. literally ten bucks a hit. >> $8 to $10. >> is it safe to say a lot of times when we read about these big drug busts, big, international drug busts, that they started at a street level? >> absolutely. this is where it starts. eventually it'll bring us right back to colombia where the heroin probably came from. and that's the goal. >> the drug that's been the scourge of the inner city for decades has one unlikely market that keeps on growing. as this dea surveillance video shows, a lot of people who you wouldn't expect traveling to the city to buy heroin. >> when heroin first came to the scene in new york it used to be considered a dirty drug where the inner city users were shooting it up, injecting it. now with the higher purity we get affluent people from the suburbs coming into the city,
purchasing this heroin that's high purity and either smoking it or snorting it. it's become chic. >> it's been called the perfect storm in all the wrong directions. very pure heroin that's easy to get for less than the price of a six-pack of beer is flooding the suburbs of the northeast and it's no longer coming from southeast asia or afghanistan. mexico actually supplies most of the heroin west of the mississippi but the biggest supplier in the northeast is a country that made its reputation selling another drug -- colombia. although some intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials disagree, as early as the 1980s there's evidence that members of the cali cocaine cartel in colombia decided to expand their product line. >> everybody remembers "miami vice" in the '80s. why did they switch from cocaine to heroin? >> greater profit margin. with heroin you can cut it significantly more than you can cut cocaine. >> according to some law enforcement officials, when the
cali cartel realized that, it came up with an ingenious way to tap into the new american suburban market. >> how do you get more customers? you put out a cheaper product at a higher grade. the purity level went up. price goes down. acceptability is there. boy, now you got yourself a whole new market. >> as colombian drug runners ramped up production heroin's influence made it to madison avenue and the fashion pages where calvin klein ads featured top models photographed to appear as having the hollow-eyed wasted look of heroin addicts. >> they called it the heroin chic where the models looked all white and skinny. >> heroin hit the music business and hollywood but this time it wasn't make believe. >> when river phoenix and kurt cobain overdosed from heroin and then you started hearing robert downey jr. and this one and that star and that celebrity, all of a sudden it made it like not
only acceptable but expectable. >> the colombian cartel used its established cocaine routes through central and south america that were faster and cheaper than the old routes used to move heroin through france and later asia. that's how the french connection game colombian connection. but when cali cartel members were arrested in 1995 a whole new generation of heroin traffickers took their place. >> right now anyone in colombia that has a route basically to the united states could be a substantial heroin trafficker. >> as opposed to these big centralized drug king pins are we talking about really more mom and pop operations? >> exactly. >> with a profit margin of $200,000 a kilo, just over two pounds, drug smugglers began figuring out new and better ways to smuggle heroin into the country. in corn flakes, in furniture, hidden in human couriers, on
cruise ship passengers, even in kidney beans. >> you find something with a hole in it they'll attempt to stick heroin in it. >> we've made seizures ranging from soles of shoes, working car batteries, working computer parts. i could go on and on. >> what's the strangest thing you've seen in smuggling? >> it has to be the liquid heroin inside puppies. believe it or not we have a veterinarian working in colombia which the police discovered and they were cutting open puppies, inserting liquid heroin and shipping them to the united states. out of the six dogs that were recovered were four died and two were living. one of the dogs they named heroina. she was adopted by a colombian national police officer and is a drug sniffing dog in colombia working with the units we work with. >> the colombian heroin that reaches new york and new jersey is the purest in the country. seven times purer than heroin sold here 30 years ago. that means there's more money to
be made when it's cut and sold. >> we heard about this phrase the money is made on the table. what does that mean? >> it would mean that's where you dilute the drug. that's where you bag it. that's the distribution point. that's probably the greatest point where they're making the money is when they're selling it on the street. >> and sometimes the heroin that's cut and packaged for distribution is hiding in plain sight. in nice neighborhoods like this one on the upper east side of new york city right next to an elementary school. >> heroin mills set up in these locations are not common but it doesn't surprise me because the traffickers try to blend in with the communities. where they're undetected they can set up their distribution. in this case, it was actually a pretty good idea up to the point where they got caught. >> what has been a good idea for colombian drug traffickers is to keep their business all in the family. like this heroin super mill
processing huge quantities of heroin behind closed doors in this quiet, residential neighborhood in the bronx. >> went to that apartment and upon entry we discovered about $6 million worth of heroin ready for street distribution. when the agents went into this location they first observed a gym bag basically full of u.s. currency. they discovered a ladder that went down to the basement level. downstairs had ten women in there doing nothing but processing heroin. the women that were arrested were paid a fee to come to the united states. they knew what the job was. when they were done they would be sent back home to their country. they weren't allowed to make any phone calls. they weren't allowed to contact anyone. they ate, slept, and processed heroin. >> why is it important for the drug dealers to make sure people they send up here have relatives back in colombia? >> because they rule by fear.
they send relatives, trusted members of their families or friends, to the united states to set up these heroin distribution organizations or they'll have them be couriers sending heroin to the united states because they know that if they got arrested they're not going to cooperate with authorities and let us know who they are because for fear of retaliation against their family. >> this is really a brutal business, isn't it? >> it's an incredibly brutal business. and it is a business. >> high quality heroin sold on new jersey streets. >> hey bro. >> hooking suburban kids right before their parents' eyes. >> i played football. i was getting good grades. there was no signs to give them an idea i was shooting up heroin. the planned combination of at&t and t-mobile would deliver our next generation mobile broadband experience to 55 million more americans, many in small towns and rural communities, giving them a new choice. we'll deliver better service, with thousands of new cell sites...
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self-propelled semi submersible vessels. and once it gets there, heroin is being transported in ways you wouldn't believe. like these six kilos of heroin worth $12 million discovered by the new jersey dea inside an audio speaker. >> the officers and agents when they took apart the speaker they found all these bricks of heroin inside. >> wow. >> just full. this is all street level distribution ready heroin. these are bricks. they're all different brand names. small glassine envelope on the outside indicates to the distributor what brand this brick here is stamped with. the distributor knows what brand name he's putting on the street. >> even though it's all the same heroin they just stamp it with a different logo. >> exactly. just a marketing ploy. this is a kilo of heroin, 2.2 pounds. >> i'm holding $2 million worth of heroin in my hands. >> colombian heroin sold on the
streets of new jersey is the purest in the country and that's created a whole new kind of heroin user as this dea undercover video shows. >> what kind of people? >> you'll see doctors. you'll see nurses. you'll see other professionals, wall street types. you'll see suburban housewives who are bored. you'll find college kids and young teenagers. it's unfortunate the people that are attracted to this. people want to alter their mind and drugs is the wrong way to do it. >> federal officials say heroin used in suburban and rural communities is rising especially in the northeast where heroin is as easy to get as a suburban train. >> what do you think the profile of the heroin user has changed from the 'night '80s and '90s to today? >> because of the potency. that hurts us. and because they can snort it like cocaine. there are more people that
started using heroin that would not have done it prior. >> according to a 2007 report from the national drug intelligence center, young adults in new jersey are using heroin at a rate that's more than twice the national average. >> one thing i can describe it is like the warmest blanket on the coldest day. it's just that great, warming feeling that you can't even describe. it's fabulous. >> the reverend joseph henin is a roman catholic priest and psychologist who runs daytop new jersey, a residential drug and alcohol treatment program for teenagers. >> it's a high that makes the kids feel like everything is okay. there is no problem. it mellows them out. and heroin is extremely available to the suburban kids today. parents don't like to believe that. >> heroin is a drug that takes away all your emotions. when you're on it you don't feel anything. if there is any pain or hurt in your life at that point you don't feel it at all and i just love that feeling because i had
nothing to worry about. >> the problem is, once most heroin users become addicted to the drug, eventually the only way to satisfy their habit is with a needle. >> my parents were really shocked because i was basically what you would call a functioning addict for almost three years because i went through three years of high school and they had no clue what was going on. i was using the whole time. i played football. i was getting good grades. there was no signs really to give them any idea that i was, you know, shooting up heroin. >> my best friend overdosed and died and i had to witness all that. that's another reason why i was so scared to do the heroin because i watched two of my friends die from it. >> even so, this teenager did try heroin for the first time before entering treatment for her addiction to prescription opiate painkillers which she bought on the street. her favorite? oxycontin. >> my friends had a lot of it all the time. it was in their medicine cabinet and we always went through the
that day when i tried it, i loved it. i mean, i went into like a completely different world. >> dubbed hillbilly heroin after an epidemic of abuse swept through the appalachian mountains in 2001, oxycontin was first marketed as a postoperative pain killer. but illicit drug users soon discovered they could crush oxycontin pills to overcome their timed release effect. young people began stealing prescription painkillers like oxycontin from their parents' medicine cabinets but when the supply runs out and the drugs are too expensive to keep buying on the street there is one cheap substitute available everywhere. >> heroin is a lot cheaper than oxycontin. i was paying $50 a pill for 80 mg of oxycontin and versus the heroin that's only like $6 or $7 a bag. and people were getting the heroin because they couldn't afford the oxycontin.
>> officials in connecticut are concerned that the rise in the illicit use of prescription opiate pain killers like oxycontin could be fueling the increase in heroin addiction in 18 to 24-year-olds which rose 18% between 2003 and 2006. purdue pharma which makes oxycontin did not respond to our request for an interview. its drug does carry the fda's strongest warning label and it has asked the fda for approval of a new version of oxycontin the company says is harder to abuse. meanwhile in 2007 the national drug intelligence center ranked heroin the most serious drug threat in new england. >> schools don't want to say there are drugs available. the realtors don't want to say there are drugs in the community. and so it is the big, silent epidemic in the suburban america.
>> the dea back on the street. >> got a good eye on it. camera's good. ten four? >> the guy walking behind me with the light colored jeans. >> the purity we have in new jersey has ranked one or two within the last five or six years of the highest level of street level purity in the country. ♪ [ tires screeching ] ♪ if it can survive this drive... ♪ it can survive yours. the nissan altima. innovation that lasts. innovation for all. ♪ perdue is the first and the only chicken company to have usda-process-verified programs for fresh all-natural chicken. [ joe ] we never have used steroids or hormones of any type,
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good morning, everybody. good morning. >> we're going to be doing three buys today pursuant to the domestic monitoring program. this is a buy walk on all three of these, so no arrests are going to be initiated unless our extraction teams, again, safety, safety, safety, for undercover and our charlies. >> we're inside the dea's domestic monitoring programs which buy small quantities of heroin to test its strength and find out where it comes from.
we went along on one of its operations to find out how easy it was to make a buy. >> the location we're going again are known locations for huge heroin distribution. so, you know, they're going to have lookouts and we're used to that so just be advised. we don't want to get too comfortable. do what we normally do. thanks a lot. suit up, and meet in the basement in five minutes and we'll deploy. >> we were just making a buy right now. we're not going to arrest anybody. we want to know purity and the signature of what type of heroin is being sold in the city. it's a road map for dea to say,
hey, listen, the highest purity of heroin is in this city or that city so we can really reformat our enforcement efforts and it's invaluable information that we get from these buys. >> the big thing going on right now is heroin. heroin is very big in the northeast. people don't realize how hot it is here in new jersey. >> the purity we have in new jersey has ranked one or two in the last five or six years of the highest level of street level purity in the country. >> time is also on our side. this is what we do every day. >> get ready to roll. >> okay. be advised, teams. we can go ahead and let charlie out but keep an eye on him. keep an eye on him and give me some feedback. let's go with it. >> the uncle is the dea's undercover agent and the charlie is the dea's confidential
informant. >> right in front of the pizza place. >> our surveillance agents are picking up our undercover and our ci right now and they're putting it out where they are. >> got a good eye on joe right now. camera's good. ten four? >> the guy walking behind you with the blue and light colored jeans. i think he went to get it, man. >> that guy right here. >> the undercover engaged one of the individuals. somebody will run for it and bring it back. they don't want to have it on themselves. they don't usually keep it on their person. they'll keep a stash area somewhere in the close vicinity. they're waiting. he's going to go get the bundle, bring it back, and then you'll see the exchange being made with
the money and the drugs. >> the dea helicopter captures the hand-to-hand exchange with its eye in the sky. >> the guy hands it over. >> good job. thank you. >> thank you. >> there appeared to be a transaction here. >> all right. we took care of it. >> we made the buy. we're covering the undercover with surveillance just in case. we'll bring him right back to our office. >> this is the labeling that they use. this is the stamp here is paris for paris hilton. ten of these glassines are in a bundle and we've purchased this bundle for $80. >> we watched as dea undercover agents bought what they said was heroin two more times that day. >> 70s good, right? >> 80.
>> all right. >> it seems like for young people, for minors, heroin's easier to get than a pack of cigarettes or a six-pack of beer. >> heroin is easy. we're finding also nowadays that pharmaceutical products are the first step into drug use. the youth are pilfering pills from the medicine cabinet, from their parents' medicine cabinet or their friends' parents. >> i got these after a hysterectomy. this orange one is -- i've got to go. >> for teens, getting drugs can be as easy as opening your medicine cabinet. >> once they've started with any kind of illicit substance used illicitly as in the case of pharmaceuticals they go on to other things. heroin is easy to buy and cheap and you and i could walk down the street. they might recognize you but not me and in a suit i could buy heroin on the street. >> we have some heroin standards we use in the laboratories. >> at the dea's special testing and research laboratory in
virginia, heroin and other drugs from around the world are tested to determine their unique signature, what they're made of, and where they came from. >> these are drug samples that have come to the laboratory for analysis. this is a large amount of south american heroin present in this bag actually from colombia. its purity is about 90%. >> 90% pure. >> 90%. >> is that where the danger of overdose comes from when you've got something that pure? >> yeah. if this product were to hit the streets and a heroin user accustomed to using a less pure product took a large amount of this they could in fact overdose. you can see it's fine white powder in its appearance, a little off white in color. that's highly refined, colombian or south american high purity heroin. >> and once it does hit the street, the purest heroin in the nation becomes the deadliest. >> the devastation of this is that one time somebody makes a decision to use it whether it's
the first time or their last time because of the purity of the heroin it's like playing russian roulette with your life. you don't know if you're going to wake up within the next hour or so. that's how pure it is. >> a heroin addict saved from overdosing by an amazing antidote. >> there he is. back from the dead. >> but an antidote that is highly controversial. >> to me it's basically saying we'll do whatever we have to do to keep people alive even if it means sending a very, very bad message to our kids. >> that's a pretty powerful thing when folks get a second chance at life. i don't want to be the one who has to decide whether they get that or not. lasercomb from hair club. it's quick, easy and affordable, and the extreme lasercomb is revolutionary. here's how it works. d.h.t. forms around the hair follicle, which shortens the lifespan of your hair.
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be meet thing weekend. there are reports of smaller groups meeting to try to hammer out a deal. august 2 pd is the deadline. in florida, a big development involving casey anthony before she's released from jail. she was acquitted of murder and is now launching new legal action to appeal her four counts of lying to police. more news later. now book "al roker reporting." heroin addiction is a full-time job. the user has to get regular fixes to avoid withdrawal. but the other risk is over dosing on too much. when that happens, death can come quickly. there is an antidote to overdoses. it's very effective but also very controversial. as more high quality colombian heroin continues to hit the streets of the northeast, at
record low prices, more and more young heroin users are ending up in the emergency room or worse in the morgue. according to the drug abuse warning network between 2002 and 2005 the number of er visits related to heroin nearly doubled in the united states. >> what happens with heroin is that, you know, oftentimes you're not prepared for when it turns on you. and so the beginning, when everything seems really good and, you know, the euphoria around the drug is actually taking away whatever is going on in your life, eventually that turns around to physical addiction where you have to have that drug in order to function daily. >> but the drug that can take away all the pain can also just as quickly end a heroin user's life. in new york and new jersey, heroin accounts for about one-fifth of all drug-related deaths. but there is an antidote for
heroin and opiate drug overdoses that is as powerful as it is controversial. it's called naloxone also known by the trade name narcan. as you're about to see in this documentary about drug addicts in chicago, narcan can bring heroin addicts who have near overdosed back from near certain death. at first, the heroin user is euphoric. >> oh, my god. this is good dope. that is good. >> but within three and a half minutes he falls into a stupor. overdosing on heroin. as his breathing slows his wife panics. >> oh, god. >> and the filmmaker gives him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. when that fails, the film maker, who carries narcan with him because of his work with addicts gives him an injection of it. only six and a half minutes later he's sitting up.
>> can you hear me? >> there he is. back from the dead. >> you just died. we had to give you narcan. >> five minutes after that, he's walking around. >> fit as a fiddle. all right. >> narcan works by blocking the opiate receptors that heroin activates in the brain reversing the slowdown in breathing that can lead to death. it's been used in emergency rooms and by paramedics for years. >> here we have an opportunity to help folks stay alive so they can re-engage with their families. that's a pretty powerful thing when folks get a second chance in life. >> mark kinsley, a drug researcher at the yale school of public health should know. for 11 years kinsley was a recovering drug addict until one day in 2005 when his work reconnected him to his past. >> we were working with active drug users that were injecting drugs.
and i accidently had gotten stuck with an infected syringe and had to go on medications in case that syringe had been positive. i went into a deep depression and even after 11 years of being clean when i went into that depression, i knew what would relieve my depression and that was a bag of heroin. >> mark kinsley quickly became addicted to the drug he swore he would never use again. >> you know, we were using heroin. early into the evening, i had gone into an overdose as a result of using too much heroin. and he administered the antidote to bring me out of it and did so. i wish that would have stopped me from using. it did not stop me from using at that point. it ultimately allowed me to get to a place where i wanted to stop using and was able to get recovery again. >> proponents of delivering the
antidote directly to addicts and their friends and families call what they do harm reduction, a way to keep opiate drug users alive until they're ready to get treatment. to me it's basically saying we'll do whatever we have to do to keep people alive even if it means sending a very, very bad message to our kids, a very bad message to the addict, and just hoping that someday they'll get into treatment. i don't know too many addicts who come dancing into treatment saying, hey, i need help. i'm ready. i didn't and i don't think many addicts did. >> mike gimble is a recovering heroin addict and drug addiction treatment expert who was the director of substance abuse in baltimore county for 23 years. >> i still believe that the motivation for an addict to stop is the fear and the pain that their addiction is causing them.
narcan takes that fear away. >> some government and law enforcement officials also believe that it's a mistake to give narcan to users who are not medically trained professionals, that they may be less likely to call 911, making tracking the number of people using heroin even harder. >> it's not the narcan that makes people not call 911 and go to the emergency room. it's the fear of arrest that makes them not call 911. >> narcan is not a cure for drug addiction nor a substitute for treatment. so the question is, should we be supplying it to addicts to prevent them from overdosing if that allows them to keep using drugs without going into treatment? >> the bottom line to all of it, though, whether narcan, not narcan, there's no treatment. there's no treatment out there. all the politicians in the world that preach and yell about treatment, there still is not treatment on demand for all those who want it, need it,
can't afford it. >> mark kinsley, whose life was saved by narcan, says the choice is clear. and it shouldn't be anyone's to make. >> that means that my experience with being able to stay alive and be able to regain trust in my family and with work again should not have happened. i think if you have a medication that ultimately can save people's lives that it's extremely unethical not to deliver that medication to people. >> heroin destroys a family and the life of a budding young artist. >> the last time i saw my sister was the night before she died she came to my room and said, i love you. good night. [ male announcer ] members of the american postal workers union
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this is one of hundreds of towns on the east coast of america where the colombian heroin business has found a home. southington, connecticut. it's a nice, middle class community near hartford. drug dealers are selling the purest heroin in the nation in hundreds of quiet suburbs like these to teenagers like alicia dubois. alicia dubois was the all-american girl, the girl everyone remembers because of her smile. >> i just remember her always wanting to go out and play all the time and she would always ask me to go play video games with her, go outside with her, and she always wanted to be doing something. >> alicia was an honor student who loved the outdoors and, most of all, painting. her dream was to go to art school and turn her passion into a career. >> she liked bright colors, anything that looked really
lively. her art work was just fun to look at. >> but in january of 2006, alicia's mother, tammy, died of cancer and overnight the teenager's world came crashing down. >> i noticed she was more sullen, a lot quieter than she'd ever been. i figured at the time it was because we were all going through the same mourning the loss of my wife and her mom but i did notice that she was very quiet and withdrawn. >> alicia began smoking marijuana and when her father found out she went into counseling. within weeks though she began using other drugs like ecstasy and prescription pain killers oxycontin and oxycodone which she was buying on the street but the biggest clue to her downward spiral was in her art. >> after she started using drugs her art work got a little more on the depressive side. she did a lot of self-portraits
and they looked like they kind of reflected her and how she was feeling. she never smiled in any of her self-portraits so it was kind of sad to look at. >> by the fall, alicia lost 30 pounds. her behavior becoming more erratic. she got into a car accident, was arrested for a dui, and third-degree larceny. the day after christmas, her family's worst fears about alicia were confirmed. >> i was switching her laundry from the washer to the dryer and a small green packet fell out of her jeans. just looking at it, you know, i got that kick in my stomach that i knew what it was. she admitted that it was heroin and she had been using for like two months. she made it clear to me that she was turned on to the heroin by one of her new girlfriends. they had been doing oxycontin and oxcycodone and when you're paying $10 a milligram it got quite expensive so they tried
heroin and pretty much you could buy it anywhere. it was her answer to it. you know, where did you get it? she said i can buy it anywhere. >> alicia said she wanted to stop using heroin and checked into a drug treatment facility. but in just two weeks the 18-year-old had signed herself out and returned home. >> i tried to talk her into staying and, you know, as did the counselors there, but she wasn't having any of it. she was sure she would be able to take care of it. >> the very next day alicia drove with a friend to buy heroin from their usual dealer. >> the last time i saw my sister was the night before she died. she came in my room and said, i love you. good night. and i didn't really say anything. i said good night to her. but i was mad at her because i knew she had taken something that day and i didn't know it was heroin. she had just fell asleep after
she overdosed on her back and basically drowned herself in her sleep. that was the last time i saw my sister. >> that night alicia dubois died of an overdose of heroin mixed with cocaine. she is buried next to her mother leaving behind her art, pictures that tell the sad story of a young woman caught in the grip of an addiction she could not escape. >> you live a year of living with guilt and what ifs, you know, those things never go away. they're the worst emotions to have, i guess, you know, most useless, so if i can do something in alicia's name, in alicia's honor to save someone else, my daughter and i will do that, you know. >> the addicts' limited options. >> treatment, long-term treatment, or death. >> and the search for answers to the heroin problem.
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it's one of the worst things in the world, waking up in the morning not being able to get out of bed unless you have that next shot. not being able to go to school unless you have that next fix. >> this teenager was lucky enough to get treatment for his heroin addiction but the vast majority of drug addicts who need treatment never get it. >> it's so interesting to me to listen to politicians, to listen to the public, survey after survey say they believe that treatment is more effective than prison. >> 60784. >> we're not going to arrest our way out of this problem.
>> all that's true. if it's true, then why haven't we built a drug treatment system as big as our prison system? >> thank you. >> as the purest heroin in the nation continues to hit the suburbs of the northeast, every day teenagers like alicia dubois are trying it for the first time without ever knowing that it might be their last. >> i didn't think anybody who looks the way that we did and grew up the way we did would turn out to be a heroin addict. but i know better now. >> once you're hooked on heroin, there are only two ways to end the heroin habit. >> and that is either treatment, long-term treatment, or death. the parents like to say it's not happening, not in my family, not in my community. so we close our eyes and kids continue to die. >> nearly half of the heroin addicts who were part of a
long-term ucla study died between the ages of 50 and 60. of those still living, 40% said they had used heroin within the past year. the ravages of heroin takes its toll on families, communities, and even on the men and women whose job it is to get heroin off the street. >> you guys get up, you do your job, but yet it still comes, no matter what there seems like there's always heroin. is that frustrating? >> as it stands now, i don't know, i can't see an end to the heroin war. i mean, we're going to have to -- we got a lot of work to do but that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to work. >> some of the greatest, largest amounts we've ever seen are being produced every single day. who's buying it? who's buying the heroin? we are. this is enemy within. you know? if we don't buy it, it's not there. but we are. so if we don't cut that demand,
there will always be a supply. >> there is a problem. there's heroin everywhere. you may think oh, i live in middle of suburbia. it's not going to happen. it will happen. there's drugs everywhere, heroin's everywhere. if your kid wants to try that hard drug or try something he will eventually find his way to get that heroin. >> heroin was first manufactured in germany in the 1870s. it was hailed as the miracle drug for pain relief. in fact, its name comes from the german word for heroic. heroin was even a legal prescription drug here in the united states 100 years ago until its addictive properties led to it being outlawed in the 1920s. but as we've seen, heroin, inc., is still very much in business. i'm al roker