WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control are showing the wide-ranging effects of the opiate epidemic.
A new report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows heroin use increased in all demographics from 2002-2013, but women and higher-income people had the greatest increases in that time period. Those two groups have historically had low rates of drug use.
Barrington native Abbie Stenberg wasn’t surprised by the statistics, since she is one of those women.
“I tried that Vicodin for the first time, and I loved it,” she said.
Stenberg, 24, became hooked on opiates at age 14 when she was prescribed painkillers for a gymnastics injury.
“I had never used drugs before. I was really against them, actually,” Stenberg said.
Stenberg quickly became addicted, taking pills and then moving to heroin, which was cheaper and easy to access. She knows she doesn’t fit the public’s stereotypical perception of a heroin user.
“When people think heroin, they think junkie, person on the street…I hate that word, ‘junkie.’ We’re people, too,” she added.
The CDC Vital Signs Report released this week compares people surveyed between 2002-2004 to people surveyed between 2011-2013. Men who used heroin increased by 50 percent, while women users went up by 100 percent.
“Substance abuse disorders don’t discriminate,” said Tom Joyce, the Associate Director of Recovery Services at the Anchor Recovery Center. That center serves about 200 people a day. Since he sees people in recovery every day, Joyce isn’t surprised at the new statistics, and hopes the study will show the public who is truly affected by addiction.
“It affects every community, every income bracket, every gender, every race,” he said.
“I was an athlete, a friend, a sister, a daughter,” said Stenberg, who has now been in recovery for more than two years. “Today I am all those things again, thanks to recovery.”
Stenberg now works as a Recovery Support Specialist at the Providence Center.