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Young man stole stereos to pay for his methadone habit




SOMERSWORTH - The thought of getting arrested for shoplifting didnít enter 22-year-old Chrisís mind when he needed Dilaudids, heroin or wafers of illegal methadone. Dilaudids are a prescription narcotic pain reliever.

"You think, Iíll get caught later," Chris said. "I wonít get caught until two days later so Iíll be high today."

The young manís habit cost between $200 and $300 per day. He stole stereo systems from stores on the Seacoast and stole money from his parents. He spent most of his time alone, shooting up, cutting off all contact with the outside world - from reality. He says reality is what he wanted to avoid.

"You kind of hate a part of yourself and you want to escape the reality," said Chris, who was arrested recently for having prescription drugs in his possession.

He is now going through daily methadone treatment and counseling at Merrimack River Medical Services in Somersworth, the Seacoastís only methadone clinic. He is one of the younger patients, but an example of how a person who turned to theft or shoplifting to support a habit - a trend area police say is on the rise.

Chris first tried prescription drugs in high school, including Percocet and Vicoden. He didnít have a major reason. He says he was just bored and didnít get along with his parents. Soon, he tried a methadone wafer, then OxyContin, then Dilaudids. The highs didnít last as long and he decided to try shooting up.

"I just told myself Iíd try it once, but the feeling was so intense I had to try one more time," he said. "Then one more time turns into whenever I could get my hands on it. Itís just more of a rush, it just hits you all at once. I never thought Iíd do it, but I put the fear aside."

He had been a straight-A student in college preparatory classes his first two years of high school, but he dropped out and started holding down various jobs. But he said he got sick a lot at work when he experienced the withdrawal symptoms of not having the drugs. So he left early or called in sick.

His parents confronted him; his father told Chris he knew he was high. He went to several rehabilitation facilities, one in Manchester, another in Nashua. He left the Manchester rehab early because he thought he was OK.

Three days after he got home, a friend called him to hang out. Chris sniffed OxyContin with him. He started using again. He tried heroin, but didnít like it. It was harder for him to buy and the high didnít last as long.

At first he spent a lot of time with a friend who used. Chris soon found himself shooting up when he was alone.

"Then it turns really expensive," he said.

Methadone wafers cost $25 each and he had to eat four to get high. And so he started shoplifting to support his habit. Stereo systems were worth a lot, he said. Then he got arrested in Portsmouth with illegally obtained prescription pills.

He says it was a wake-up call. He called his parents and asked for money to go to the methadone clinic. He hadnít talked to them in two years.

"I just told them Iím sorry and I want to get better now," Chris said. "Iíd probably be in jail if the clinic wasnít here."

He has gone to night school and gotten his high school diploma and says he wants to go to college.

"I want to get a decent job," he said, adding he is not at a temporary job.

For Chris, the methadone helps him work without feeling sick. He is afraid if he goes to jail heíll get sick without methadone. He credits the Somersworth clinic with helping him move forward.

"When I come here, I donít do it to get high. Iím not going to be on it forever," he said. "Itís hard, but youíve got to do it."


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