14 News Special Report: Heroin in the Hand of Kids - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

14 News Special Report: Heroin in the Hand of Kids

Of all the dangerous drugs, one in particular is on the rise among Indiana teenagers, especially in the Evansville area.

The Indiana Youth Institute says once any addict sobers up, the struggle to stay sober is a real issue. It's a struggle 20-year-old April Siebenurgen had to fight in high school.

Siebenburgen, or as everyone else knows her by, Nikki, is trying to find herself in the world, one step at a time. 

"It's really hard to do it when you're an addict though," Siebenburgen says. "When you have to get sober, you have to get sober from everything."

She struggled with many things in high school.

"That's when my addiction started and that's when I did not care at all," she says. "I partied a lot, got in trouble a lot cause I was driving, so and I would drive drunk or high it didn't matter. I didn't care as long as I got from point A to point B." 

At 16, she got addicted to pain pills, and by 19, she was hooked on heroin daily.

"I want to hate it really bad just as much as my mom does and everybody else, but it's really hard, really hard for me to," Siebenburgen says.

"You're always waiting for a phone call that she's dead or that she's in jail or that something terrible has happened, so it's kind of living on the edge," says Jennifer Tackitt, Siebenburgen mom. 

Tackitt says she found out about her daughters addiction, almost as soon as it started.

"It was devastation. It was absolute panic," Tackitt says.

Tackitt and Siebenburgen aren't alone though. Two percent of Indiana teenagers admit to using heroin, according to the Indiana Youth Institute.

"The numbers are up," says Bill Stanczykiewicz, CEO and President of the Indiana Youth Institute.

Stanczykiewicz says heroin is cleaner than it ever has been, more readily available and cheaper.

"Heroin is dangerous at so many levels and especially more so for teenagers as that brain development is happening. Heroin negatively impacts the brain development and cognitive ability of young people," Stanczykiewicz says.

According to IYI, monthly heroin use among Indiana 12th graders is double the national rate.

"Heroin is a highly addictive drug. It is just too easy candidly to overdose on Heroin that you don't realize what you're ingesting and what it's going to do to you," Stanczykiewicz says.

After relapsing several times, Siebenurgen is four months sober. 

"A lot of families would give up after everything I've put my family through, a lot of them. A lot of people would just give up on them give up on whoever's using and I mean that happens. I'm sure if I keep relapsing, it's going to happen to me. I don't want it to. I'm not going to let it, never," Siebenurgen says. "They're everything. They're my support group. My mom big time. She's helped me through a lot. She's got me through it." 

"She chose to live, so that's a big plus. A lot of people don't make that choice, so she was the one that came and said, 'I don't want to die.' I won't give up on her," Tackitt says. 

What does it mean that heroin is cleaner? Law enforcement officers say it's more pure and potent.

As for Siebenurgen, she didn't finish high school, so she's working on completing her degree, and keeps busy working at a local beauty salon. 

She says she's at peace with her addiction and is striving for the day her cravings stop.

Some warning signs that you can look for in your kids are:

  • Kids who become overly detached more than just the normal teen
  • Kids who start stealing around the house
  • Those who aren't sure where their location is
  • Kids who are vague about who their friends
  • Reduction in school success
  • Different group of friends
Any warning sign in particular isn't cause for concern, but if you see several signs it's possible your child could be getting into drugs.

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