Anchorage police are seeing a growing trend in heroin use, and say heroin-related deaths outnumber traffic fatalities in recent years. According to Sgt. Kathy Lacey, heroin is becoming the drug of choice for more young people -- with the average age of fatal heroin-overdose victims in Anchorage only 29.
Shawn and Cheryl Babbitt know the pain that heroin addiction can cause. The couple lost their 19-year-old son Clark on Aug. 20, 2012, when he overdosed on heroin in the family's bathroom. The couple says their son struggled with addiction in his teenage years and had told them that he wanted to try everything once.
"It was drinking, it was pills, it was pot, chewing tobacco, it was everything: you name it, he tried it," Shawn said.
They described their son's lifestyle change, saying money went missing, he was never home and often got into trouble. They said it was hard to determine when he was telling them the truth because like so many other heroin addicts, he would do anything to get that next high. Clark even spent some time in a substance abuse treatment program, but his parents say he picked up more bad habits there.
"It was just so hard to see him go through that and not be able to help him, because we didn't understand what to do," Cheryl said.
Although Cheryl says she feels like a failure because she wasn't able to help her son, both she and her husband say they hope Clark's story will prevent others from trying heroin even once.
"I always had this dream that someday when he's in his late twenties or thirties, he'll put his arm around me and say, 'I'm so sorry, Mom, that I put you through all that; I really messed up and I'm really glad you put up with me,'" Cheryl said.
Note: This is the first story in Channel 2's three-part series "Addicted to Heroin." Part 2 will air Tuesday on the Channel 2 Newshour at 6 p.m.
Contact Abby Hancock: