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Everything I just came down to me at once. And I decided to commit suicide. I took an overdose. I went out for a five minutes. I was a day when I woke up. My. Dad died I was crying dying I wanted to know did like have to go I was. You know in a worse fist physical status like to remember myself you know almost Well you know my job to draw. Wide world to. Do it Jean. I turning to heroin because every other child I know is using heroin. The reason they tell you to heroin is because it's contagious. There is no way a
parent can protect his child unless we stop the epidemic. That is psychiatrist Judy and Denson Gerber founder around director of the pioneering Odyssey House drug cure program. Children who have just caught the drug because they are of course the disease of heroin because they are on the right or left of children who are pushing now to support their habits the children who are really victims of the epidemic. These children once they are cleaned up and set on the right track really need nothing else. The United States government says that of the more than 60000 known drug addicts in the country more than half of the New York state most in New York City. More than half of them under 30 years of age. Independent Author he says that the government figure represents only a small fraction of the reality of American heroin addiction. Some say there are at least 20000 teenage drug addicts in New York City alone. This is Jeff came in reporting the story of the long trip back the Odyssey House program of rehabilitating teenage heroin addicts. This past week 13 ex-addicts
moved into a tired old five story apartment house only blocks away from New York's aristocratic Upper East Side. Ages 14 to 17. There are three young women and 10 young men in search of truths about themselves and hope for a productive tomorrow. Taking part in a program that combines love discipline intensive psychiatric care and communal living they are learning to face themselves and their enemy. I've been using drugs for approximately two and a half years. I came into contact with our way through a friend a so-called friend and what makes it so funny is now that friend isn't on drugs. I'm still trying to get myself together. My best friend is jokes. And one day she asked me know if I wanted to try it. And I you know even though I stayed with them they were using heroin. I tried to keep away from it so it was possible but I just know I feel it when I tried it and I liked it. I continued the first time I used her room was about two years ago.
Me and all my friends had smoked marijuana and I was. Friend moved up from the crowd when they were I want to see him and John you know he was talking to me but I have I have been talking to me by having for a couple of days and he was getting everybody uses you know one by one because you know like here you see nothing wrong with you except you know just trying to get high. And I wonder you know. And I want to see my job but he gave me a back and he said go in the home when I was in my building and you know come communal Vester back to back you know if you like him maybe tonight we will get down and buy a sack of something. So I didn't and I got him. You know like I was still curious and I thought you know I kept doing it again. And I started getting high off.
I had ran away from home one day and I was staying with his girlfriend of mine in the house. She had also to illegal stuff you know. And since I was around it all the time I just tried it. I continued to try. I first got to him about it. But a year and a half ago I had been working in this camp over summer and when I came back a kid that I knew it was like my best friend. He had lived out his own apartment during the summer. So you know we had been smoking pot together for about a year. So I came back. And you know that the first week I was back I wanted to you know cop some smoke and he said no you know let's get some heroin and I told him you know I didn't want to get involved in that. And I convinced me you know I had to buy a bag with him. So we bought a bag together and we started and then school was supposed to start and then I had to school strike. You know I just kept using keep snorting when the store you know and you know.
It's not a full blown you know five six months. Then I stopped. And then I started back up before I came to the program. I mean my friends was up my friends house. You know I was just talking about you know buying some reefer. So I went to my friend said You know I was try you know some dough you know everybody you know like agreed with him you know and we went out and bought a couple of bags. It was about five of us you know we you know started it you know we like to high you know and we just you know after that we just kept on you know buying more and more you know and we just went on you know skin pop into mainline and Dr. Denson Gerber offers this short course in dope jargon have what is called Horse snack but in this generation it's called mostly powder stuff junk. There are other terms which a four letter terms and that kind of thing which we won't go into
though however give the feeling that the kids have that the people have the choice. That's a no no. I mean they're just ugly terms for a very ugly thing. How when can we take it three ways all of which are highly addicting. It is usually started by children and even by adults by snorting or through the nose sniffing of it. It's then skin popped put under the skin and the subcutaneous injection of course the final way is mainlining into the vein. The main lining is the one which will have it's anywhere from $15 up to $150 a dog a brick of new shows even the band we believe a child's balloon. The clips both the son move to understand you know too soon. There is new sense to try again. Point at Red Sea blubber score suicide remarks a taunt from the Fool's Gold mouthpiece
a hollow hole these wasted words prove you want but you're not busy being born this procedure you. Put up. In the tree like a middle class in a middle class neighborhood. My parents were not well off. You know little income and I come from a Jewish background and my family life was pretty good up close around 11 years old and then you know parents started not getting along and they got divorced when I was 11 and a half. I you know I just took advantage of it because there was no one to tell me what NOT to do so I did what I wanted to know. You know I took it on my own to come home with time I want to because like even if I'm of the said anything you know you know spectral and I just did it as a priest and that's you know another one of the reasons why I couldn't file for
drugs you know I was trying to pay her back you know divorcing my father I was the only child and it was like the kind of thing where a mother father you know both like you are trying to win me over on their side like my mother saying you know your father is no good and this and that you know and this went on for a long time. On the other hand it was my father always told me away from my mother you know trying to get me I to his side was where you know I was like very confused and like my family we always used to argue and stuff. As I started to use drugs my you know my father my mother and he would you know tried it. I came my mother and attacked my mother when I was high. And this would happen I would get very loud you know I would have to think of my father and he was breaking up my whole family and like this is one of the main reasons why I was confused why I was using drugs.
Well I was younger I was you know all right. Yeah. I To a certain age around. Round me and my father the mother has separated you know for days I went down in my family. Then around 11 years old you know my mother in law Mary you know this man. And then they're like oh my God and I disapproved of him from the beginning. So you know I got married on April 2nd 1966. And I. Regretted this for one it was the day before my birthday. And I like him. So after that you know it seems as though my mother neglected mate for his benefit. And I my mother was only thinking about him. She turned off or you know all of my brothers and sisters as she didn't give a damn about us. This made me feel them in the club.
You know I felt bad. I felt lost and so on. So I started being very disobedient. I started you know going out with my friends staying out to around 11:00 12:00 and I was only 11 years old and I started drinking. Have that started drinking has started smoking marijuana. And this was good we better start it down later later. Then like you say hit me for the least thing and I'd talk back to me he used to hit me and so on. So I said Man get the hell I left the house. I love to ask you what happened I was in my friend's house and like he said he could stay in the A-list for you know different reason than you told what happened. So this day I went back home
to me the court went upstate went to you fastest and wafer from my house for two months. Just when I was 13 been introduced to drugs or any I was using drugs I took overdose and so on and I can I see I realize why they've made me realize that I've been at three months and they have made me realize you know what was going on now with me. Will. You know when addicts fall deeply in love with a drug that hangs them up so deeply rooted is their commitment to it that it takes a series of shocks to force junkies into even seriously considering another life. Here are some of the children of Odyssey House we call some of their harrowing experiences.
My 13th birthday and I had a party. Like you know most of my friends came like my best friend. She never showed up. She was out you know she went to get high. You know and you know when it comes down to get in you know between you. And a big adult. Or anything in a big adult that always comes first. And it hurts like I had. Oh indeed I can while I'm sitting there. Watching other people were getting off. Carving their names in their arms with Naresh you know putting their initials in their arms and that time at that time all I could call it was a disgusting moment looking at them and seeing what they were doing to themselves. Killing themselves by doing this. Oh no it was like it was a terrible nightmare.
I found I was pregnant and you know I had to get rid of my baby because I thought by me using drugs that much I would grow up and use drugs and I thought by using drugs that you know would have effect on my baby like it might come out retarded or something. So I had to get rid of my baby. But I was using drugs. I don't want to do this but and it was a I thought it was the best thing. When I came in the house and I was high and I was not in this cracked in front of my mother and she just stood there and looked at me and she cried and I saw a crime that I know what to do and she just said oh my god look what I did to my baby and I felt so bad just you know I just ran out the house and come back for a long time and then when I came back you know I told my mother I was sorry and I was going make it up to her and she believed me. And I felt good about this. But did I still want to use drugs again. I was gone with this boy and we really like each other a lot. Is planning on getting married you know and that what he did you know I
was using drugs and then when he found out I was using it he just he just put me out completely you know. I was living with him and he just told me to get my things and get out. And then like after I left him then I just started roaming the streets again. And then met another one of my always moments was where I had to get the money to buy my stuff. I had to stand on corners or anywhere waiting for somebody to come by. And you know I take me to their house and do what they want with me and I get the money. I was out on the street for three days without eating or sleeping. And my my have but it also came down on me. And my family problems the loss of my sisters the truth. What I had from my mother father everything I just came down to me at once. And I decided to commit suicide. To get
rid of this because I didn't. Know just how to go about getting help I wanted to help. I didn't know where to go. I didn't know that there was an odyssey and. I committed suicide. I cut my wrists and the next thing I remember was I woke up. In the psychiatric ward of Harlem Hospital. And that really. Really did a lot to me. Then I decided to do something I had no motivation. I don't know why maybe it was. I don't know what it was maybe it was a message from God or something but I just had a little more strength to do things. And I found Odyssey and I have honestly and I love Odyssey now. I took an overdose. I went out for 45 minutes.
I was afraid when I woke up. That I thought I was going to die. I feel guilty. I feel very insecure. I just like going to those things. I never know how it works. So I experienced it that day. Do you go into one category but was let me be. Me telling lies to my father when he knew it me and he gladly my mother and I both are sisters. Me just you know turn them Oh it's my grandmother. Me lying to my family in general. I suppose this man you know began why
I really didn't enjoy myself. But I knew. What do you want for me to give you my bed. You know to give my stuff. Oh joy. Piers it's. Six months time. I will do so much for so little for so much says I. Like the president. You. Know I'm. Told. The. Voices you're hearing in this program belong to children from every conceivable part of our society. The death dealers of the Mafia and others have seen to it that heroin is available wherever a potential
market for it exists. But it was in the more classical heroin environment. The streets of Harlem. The problem of children and heroin first came into sharp focus last December in the common bathroom of the filthy tenement. Police discovered the crumpled body of Walter Vandermeer. He had a Snoopy sweatshirt on his back lying next to him a hypodermic needle and the other equipment of addiction. At age 12 Walter VanderMeer had become the youngest known victim of heroin overdose in the history of New York. Since that time the city admits there have been no new governmental efforts to save the children. At the privately run Odyssey House Manhattan treatment center for children the boy who knew Walter VanderMeer best is now in residence. Oh Walter Here's the tape would go away if you like. There you go. Selfish I was saying go there yes I will. Any action he actually for he was speaking to give you let me give you you know you don't do you expect to give back to you when you heard that.
Well tomorrow did and died. Were you surprised we shot you know why not. I know people you know and you know you just have a lot of people love you. To you do you think that had Walter VanderMeer known about Odyssey House that he would have gone. He was forced to go. What kind of things to do see and hear. Well he went to jail but I seen people highly self-aware people killing and they knew God hostile you know and people just can't take it. New York City public school officials admit that there are thousands of Walter VanderMeer children who are now and could die tomorrow. The profiteers the pushers are helping again. A kid can buy a bag of heroin for a dollar at his neighborhood school. Most parents of teenage and pre-teen addicts have no idea
where that lunch money so often winds up 210 York City children died of heroin overdose last year alone. Public officials. So Dr. Denson driver don't seem to care. And it's really a question of attitudes and the attitudes are from the very top to the ghetto. It's not only the ghetto the attitudes of not problem solving and being asked pathetic of looking the other way of not caring if someone is mugged. We are perhaps seeing the Kitty Genovese case of the 38 people who listen to a girl be murdered and dragged for 27 minutes we're seeing in a sense all these children being dragged and murdered and we're killed and we still look the other way. I mean that's really words that we're having a massive Genovese kind of reaction. We just don't care. And I suppose Jeff it's easy to care about my life in which less people died and the slaughters that we are having of our own children. The Odyssey House program puts children into a highly structured little society in which they
constantly learn from professional staff and one another. This was the first meeting at the Manhattan adolescent treatment unit. The first voice is that of Danny age 18 an ex-addict who helps run the program although he is still in therapy. Good morning. Yes no doubt we have a lot of work to do. That's all I can say really you know I guess we got a long day. You know what a lot of things. Early in that situation you know how many rules you know I guess I just stress again and to keep the noise down you know going to always stay close together stay tight go nowhere one another
at all times. The children of Odyssey House have a deep concern for one another. Every day they start their work of cleaning study and therapy with a song that. I am. So yeah let. Me see that a New York State has a 54 million dollar budget for drug abuse work this year. The founder of Odyssey House charges that money is being misused. She says Governor Nelson Rockefeller who is running for reelection is putting state funds into a TV and radio campaign designed to make him look like he's doing something about the drug problem.
Rockefeller she says has ordered his aides to try to silence or Dr. Judy on Denson Gerber warns that New York's heroin crisis is about to go national. The reality is the drug addiction is a contagious disease in this age group. It would rather stay in New York. This is the first year of the New York at the Demick when the summer comes our children will travel. Our children will travel to look at adjoining states that able to travel to flowers they will travel to California. They will travel all over. And with them they will take the heroin was the drug. This program was produced by the Children's Foundation in Washington D.C.. Well. This is Jeff Gannon speaking. This is the national educational radio network.
Four documentaries
Episode Number
The Long Trip Back
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Four documentaries; 1; The Long Trip Back,” 1970-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
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