Sports injuries can lead to opiate addiction

Sports injuries can lead to opiate addiction

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Heroin abuse is an epidemic. Officials say the addiction often starts with prescription pain pills and escalates from there. One group especially vulnerable to getting hooked is high school athletes. Fox 5 spoke with two young men who say their sports injuries led to addiction.

Joe Abbadessa, now 23, says one Vicodin prescription after he tore his ACL in high school led to a deep opiate addiction. He abused Percocet, oxycodone, OxyContin and eventually heroin. He has been clean and sober for about 27 months now. He works at his father's landscaping company. He says his dark times were very dark. He says he was depressed and didn't want to live.

Patrick Trevor has a similar story. He injured himself playing high school sports and was prescribed opiates for the pain. He suffered a lacrosse injury in high school. The doctor prescribed Patrick 30 days of oxycodone. Patrick says he knew immediately he liked the way it made him feel and soon became addicted, which also eventually led to heroin. To get money for these drugs, he started stealing. The avid musician has been clean and sober for about 18 months now. He credits Dynamic Youth Community Inc. in Brooklyn with saving his life.

James Hunt, the acting special agent in charge of the DEA in New York, says the No. 1 priority for his office is fighting opiate trafficking. He says it's an urban and suburban problem.

Dr. Harris Straytner, a psychologist specializing in addiction, says this is an all-too common problem. He says too many people get addicted to pain medication and then end up graduating to heroin. He advises parents of young athletes who get hurt to try to avoid medication and to see if other options are available.

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