The Young Face of Drug Abuse in the Northeast: Kristen Delgado, 18

She is one of a growing wave of teenagers and 20-somethings addicted to heroin.

Video: Kristen Delgado in Her Own Words

Video: Kristen Delgado in Her Own Words


Kristen Delgado now blames some of her best friends from high school for introducing her to heroin and abetting her drug abuse.

Though Kristen, from West Milford, N.J., enjoyed getting high, she also felt ashamed of her drug use and hid it from her parents, teachers, and employer.

At 18, Kristen is one among a swelling number of teens and 20-year-olds who are developing addictions to heroin and prescription opiates and who live in suburbs across the Northeast.

Though she nearly died overdosing on heroin before arriving at a drug treatment facility in northern New Jersey earlier this year, Kristen is thankful to be alive and has been clean for seven months.

She recently spoke with U.S. News about her addiction. Excerpts:

On her daily routine. Wake up, use, do something, go to school, make a deal, sell, use, go to classes, use, go to work, use in the bathroom at work, hang out with my boyfriend, use all evening, come home, say goodnight to my parents, sneak back out, use all night, get back at six in the morning, take a shower, do it all over again. That's what it was like for the last month before I came to Daytop earlier this year (for the second time).

On wanting to get help. I remember last time I was in Daytop, I went to meetings and got a sponsor even though I was still using. I would call my sponsor in the morning to go over our daily reflections, but toward the end of the call, I would start withdrawing. After I got off the phone with her, I would be crying because I was withdrawing so badly. I wanted to tell her that I was using again, but I just couldn't.

On surviving a heroin overdose. I'm so grateful to be alive. This time is my fourth in-patient rehab and my sixth program overall, but I'm trying hard to make sure this is my last. I used to get in trouble, go to rehab, get out, relapse, and do it all over again. Now I know that this time needs to be different. Before I just didn't care, but now I do. I'm actually trying this time.