INDIANAPOLIS - Police say heroin use in Indianapolis has increased by more than 30 percent in the past year, and Indianapolis high school students are using heroin at a higher rate than students across Indiana and across the nation.
According to the Partnership for a Drug Free Marion County, one in 20 high school seniors has tried heroin.
"It's terribly concerning," said Nancy Beals, with the Partnership for a Drug Free Marion County. "It's a terrible deadly drug to use. It's very worrisome. It's 2 to 5 percent of the student body."
According to Metro police, heroin use has skyrocketed by at least 50 percent over the past two years, and the crime lab reports that heroin's purity has increased from 5 percent to 40 percent in the past decade.
"I've seen many good people turn very bad because of drug addictions," said Capt. Robert Holt, with Metro police narcotics. "And they would do things they would never do prior to their experience using illicit drugs."
Heroin is immediately addicting, and young addicts spend much of their time using more and more heroin, not to get high, but to avoid painful withdrawals.
"Adults tend to think that it's a drug for older people, but our young people are seriously experiencing some life-threatening, life-changing experiences with heroin use," said Rachelle Gardner, with Fairbanks Addiction Center.
Heroin forces addicts into tough choices and it will cause people to give up years and things they will never get back.
Leslie, a recovering heroin addict, began abusing prescription pain killers at the age of 18 until she realized that heroin was more plentiful, more potent and more prevalent.
"It was how I was going to get it, when I was going to get it. And I couldn't sleep without knowing the next morning that I had a plan to go get some. It was a horrible life," Leslie said. "I lost my daughter over this addiction. And I gave her up for adoption. And she's doing well now. So I'm actually a part of her life and I'm able to do that because I'm sober."
Experts said parents need to see what's going on in their children's lives, who they're hanging out with, their performance in school and their overall health.