Haddonfield Native Turns to Streets to Support Heroin Addiction

A 28-year-old Haddonfield woman describes her plummet into the world of prostitution and drug addiction.

Written by Anastasia Groce
Special to Patch
A tall, thin woman with platinum blond hair and tan cowboy boots struts along the side of a busy street in Camden. She is followed closely by her pimp, a plainly-dressed man in his mid-30s, who holds a plastic grocery bag with her belongings in it, a cell phone and some clothes.

She surveys the passing cars, waiting for one to pull over to her so she can make some quick money. This has become the daily routine for Corrine, who started selling her body when she was 19 years old.

“I’ve been up for three days straight,” 28-year-old Corrine, also known as CeeLo, said between taking sips of the beverage she was holding in her shaking hand. “Being addicted is like Hell on Earth, that’s really the only way I can describe it.”

Corrine, who grew up in Haddonfield and chose not to reveal her last name, supports her heroin and crack addiction by selling her body on the streets of Camden.

The City of Camden is now plagued with a heroin epidemic that has caused city officials to employ more police officers to search alleyways and abandoned buildings to find people who have overdosed.

Camden had 560 cases of heroin abuse in 2012 and has seen a staggering increase so far this year. Although some users are residents, many travel from surrounding towns to Camden to support their addiction. Heroin addiction has turned into a statewide epidemic.

Many people suffering from heroin addiction do not receive help until it is too late.

New Jersey has seen a 53 percent increase in drug-related deaths from 2010 to 2012 alone.

“[The Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA)]’s testimony once again demonstrates that young people are first introduced to opiates in their own medicine cabinets, but when the supply dries up, many look to dangerous alternatives like heroin,” said Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vitale.

He was referring to a recent report titled Confronting New Jersey’s New Drug Problem: A Strategic Action Plan to Address a Burgeoning Heroin/Opiate Epidemic Among Adolescents and Young Adults.

Many people start off as patients for an injury and are prescribed painkillers such as Oxycodone or Percocet. They may begin to develop a dependency. This turns into a need for something stronger so they hit the streets to support their addiction for opiates, drugs made from the poppy seed plant.

“I was an addict before but I had gotten clean,” said recovering heroin addict, John, 41, via telephone interview. “When I had back pain, the doctor prescribed me painkillers and next thing you know, I was hooked again.”

According to Camden County Police, the suburban towns of New Jersey are seeing a spike in heroin addiction. Many people in suburban areas surrounding Camden come to the city to buy street drugs.

“People see addicts in such a negative light. They’re often portrayed as lowlifes,” said John. “But believe me, there are just as many addicts in the streets as there are in the suburbs. It can be anyone; people of power, teachers, doctors.”

Camden County Police say many of the heroin buyers are coming from suburban towns like Cherry Hill, Haddonfield or Washington Township.

“I grew up in Haddonfield,” said Corrine. As she speaks her body shakes uncontrollably and the drink in her mouth leaks down her chin, she wipes it away and continues to talk. “I was an athlete in high school, and my mom was a nurse. I just started dating a guy who did heroin and I wanted to try it, to see what all the talk was about, you know?” 

“It’s so easy to get the stuff. You just go to Camden, they have it all the time and it’s cheap,” said John. “I was buying five bags [of heroin] a week. I didn’t inject myself, but I snorted it. I got to the point where I needed it to keep me normal so I could go to work.”

According to a report by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), drug overdose deaths outnumber motor vehicle related deaths in 29 states and Washington, D.C. The report also notes that currently one in 10 Americans with a substance abuse disorder receives treatment.

“I’ve tried to get help,” said Corrine. “I’ve been clean before, I was clean for four years before I relapsed. I still visit my mother, she says if I get clean again she’ll take me back.”

Opiate addiction is a brain disease and although there is no cure, it can be managed through treatment and recovery programs. Many addicts avoid treatment because of the negative effects of withdrawal, including muscle pain, bone pain, insomnia, restlessness, vomiting and involuntary muscle twitches.

“Heroin withdrawal is like the worst flu you’ve ever had,” said John. “It’s physical and mental. I mean, mental addiction is rough but a physical addiction is worse. Your entire body aches and you feel like you’re dying.”

Despite the odds stacked against her, Corrine still has hope for a better life.

When asked about her future goals Corrine said, “I want to get clean and have kids by the time I’m 30. I want to find a man who loves me for who I am.”

Marie May 07, 2014 at 09:04 AM
Luckily - in treatment - they wind up doing both - which is more than most non addicts ever do over the course of their lifetimes.
Sue Martin May 07, 2014 at 10:03 AM
Corrine is stuck in a dangerous and tragic circumstance. Her family are suffering with her; as a mother, I can only imagine the heartbreak she's suffering. I pray that Corrine finds the strength to realize her dreams.
Elaine Del Campo May 07, 2014 at 11:14 AM
I believe this is a great story because it shows that "ordinary suburbans" can also have an addiction. I grew up around alot of addiction. Thankfully I have never fallen into the trap of addiction. I have witnessed alot concerning addiction. Honestly it all stems from these doctors who prescribe these pain pills to make their money. There are many different people who have addiction issues. Just like these doctors; drug dealers and pimps want to make their money also. SOME doctors, pimps, and dealers care about one thing....MONEY. Its all about strength....how strong are you? Nobody can change "you" but "you". Yes treatment definitely helps but you have to want it. I believe ALOT is swept under the rug...absolutely! Its ashame that people get so stuck in addiction that they just dont care anymore....they feel they cant change. They give up on life! I just hope and pray that something happens soon where doctors are no longer aloud to just hand out narcotics so that addiction is not too much of an issue anymore. GREAT STORY!
Shana Marshall May 08, 2014 at 07:34 PM
Maryann- is your best friend a substance abuse counselor in NJ? I'd love to know his name and see his resume.
Maryann Campling May 11, 2014 at 02:29 PM
Shana....he is...and is also a recovering alcoholic/druggie....so he has walked the walk. He has a better than average success rate with his clients....because they can't B.S. him....he knows all of the excuses. He climbed out of a bottle 20 years ago (after several 30 day detox situations.) He told me that he (and others like him) will do or say anything to get people off their backs. The way he got clean was after his Mom threw him out and changed the locks on the doors....she told me that it was the hardest thing she ever did....but letting him stay (and lie) to her was just enabling him. After he lives in a roach motel for a few weeks, with no $$$, etc. he decided to HELP HIMSELF!!! Through the good offices of A.A. I asked him one time why he did what he did....he is an incredibly bright guy, double major at Pitt...he said that his father was extremely successful...whatever that means...and that he never felt that he measured up. So...he started drugging...when that got out of control, he said to himself...gee...this is illegal, so I think I'll drink....which he did, for 17 years. Right now, his 24 year old niece is a druggie...he tells his sister what the deal is, and she refuses to listen....you know...if you don't acknowledge a problem, then you abdicate your responsibility to correct it. The kid already has one child out of wedlock and another one in the oven. Her parents have made excuses for her since the womb! What a surprise that she turned out the way she did....


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