tv This Is Life With Lisa Ling CNN October 16, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
>> chen: you become more and more chinese now. it's 7:00 p.m. on a wednesday night, and i'm in a busy city emergency room. we have been here maybe ten minutes and already there's heroin overdose that has come in. a woman has been brought in unresponsive. >> nothing? >> no. 0.4, please. >> she's overdosed on heroin. this is happening all over the country. cheap and potent heroin is fuelling a surge in addiction. and overdose deaths are skyrocketing. the vast majority of those dying
are white users. many quite young and it's sparking a change in how we, as a country, approach drug addiction and policy. >> this is an illness. we have to treat it as such. we have to change our mindset. >> it's time we treat addiction like the health problem that it is. >> i've come to one of the hardest-hit cities in america, chicago where a kinder, gentler approach is taking root. >> no arrests, no nothing. bring your drugs in. we'll get you in a treatment program. >> reporter: in a city where black communities also ravaged by heroin have mostly known arrests and incarceration, have we really softened our stance on hard drugs? or are these new policies fuelling the next chapter of america's racial divide? >> i wasn't born on the right side of the tracks. so i wasn't offered the same way out. it's like a total betrayal. what about me? ♪
the city of chicago is now a major hub for mexican heroin. >> u.s. officials say el chapo is responsible for about 25% of all of the drugs entering the u.s. >> it's very difficult to actually stop the flow of illegal substances when demand is so high for it. >> reporter: here in the nation's heartland, cartels have found a new market for their cheap potent products. young, white users like 20-year-old aden. >> son of a bitch. it is going to clot.
>> reporter: aden could be in college but instead is in a deserted lot, shooting heroin in broad daylight. >> never had this happen before. >> reporter: he just spent his last dollar on a bag of dope, only to find he scored a bad batch. >> it is [ bleep ] clogged. >> reporter: we came to see how heroin was impacting chicago, and what we found was this. >> i have to go make more money. it just got [ bleep ] wasted. all of my [ bleep ] -- up on me. i don't know. it is all gone now. >> so you didn't get any in your system? >> no. i have to go panhandle again or something. everything i just had just got wasted. just garbage. >> we'll catch up with you in a little bit then. >> see you guys. >> okay. see you in a little bit.
so that is aden's life, it seems, because he had this, i don't know, needle explosion or something, whatever happened. he's in crisis mode. he has to get something relatively quickly. otherwise his body will go in to withdrawals and he will get really, really sick. in the u.s., the average age of a first-time heroin user is 24 years old. >> thank you so much. god bless. aden was 17 when he first started. in just three short years, he's become homeless and now begs for money to feed his addiction. >> it doesn't feel good to be out on the street, begging for change, just being that guy that people look at. but, you know, i did it to myself. i know what got me here. >> to keep his withdrawal at bay, aden needs at least two bags of heroin. the going rate is $10 a bag. >> wow, thank you, man. god bless. i appreciate it. >> as soon as aden gets enough
cash, he hooks up with his dealer on a nearby street corner and gets his fix while i wait. the whole process from score to shooting up takes just minutes. >> hey. >> hey, what's up, lisa? >> how are you feeling? >> a lot better. >> yeah. you seem to have a lot of anxiety before when we saw you at the tracks. is this what you do every day? >> yeah. >> this is it. you panhandle, you use. >> this is what my day is devoted to. >> how do you feel about that? >> i don't like it. i never in a million years that tut i would be doing this. i used to watch these shows on tv and be like oh, my god, that is never going to be me. sure enough it is. >> what were you like growing up? >> normal kid. >> parents pretty active in your life. >> they were always there for me. i had a good upbringing.
>> aden grew up in a loving family in a middle-class neighborhood. he played sports and was a typical kid. what happened? what kind of propelled you in to the drug world? >> i started experimenting with painkillers and stuff. somebody gave me heroin. that became my drug of choice, right there and then. i was spending all of my money on dope and fell apart from there. >> how did you get to the point where you had to live on the streets? >> i mean you just burn so many bridges over time. eventually you run out of options. i've stayed in abandoned houses in chicago, i've stayed in allies, i've stayed all over the place. >> it's freezing right now. >> oh, yeah. it gets really cold at night. >> is your life dangerous? >> yeah. definitely is.
you can definitely get put into dangerous situations going into dangerous neighborhoods to get what you need. you never know if you are going to or want to put that needle in your arm. but the urge to do heroin is so strong and it overtakes you. ♪ >> aden has agreed to take me on a tour of his childhood, the place where he lived before heroin took hold. just 15 minutes from where he panhandles and lives homeless on the street, we arrive in a quiet, middle-class suburb. >> it is really pretty over here. >> uh-huh. i grew up in nice suburbs. that's the park i used to play as a kid. >> aden's parents still live in the house he grew up in with his two younger brothers. >> where this little red car is at, that's my old house, the smaller there with the little yellow broom in front. >> what was it like to grow up
her here? >> it was good. i had a good childhood. i [ bleep ] it up on my own. >> does everyone in your family know, like your little brothers know. >> they all know the situation. none of them like it. >> how does that feel? >> i don't like being the black sheep of the family, you know. >> aden says that his parents helped him get into treatment multiple times. but after each stint he relapsed. now he rarely sees them. >> if you wanted to go back here and live, do you think you could. >> i don't want that around my little brothers, you know, i think we should probably get off the block now. >> okay. >> people say you have to hit rock bottom in order to recover. have you even gotten close? >> i don't know what rock bottom is. i'm homeless. i've lost most of my friends and family. i'm hooked on heroin. what else could there be besides
jail. i'm lucky i haven't gone to jail yet. who knows. >> in his three years of using, aden has never been arrested. somehow flying under the radar of officers like 50-year-old conrad. for the past decade, conrad has worked narcotics, focusing his efforts on chicago's toughest neighborhoods. >> i've arrested a lot of users. i know where this goes. it leads to a horrific life, death or the penitentiary. >> it's a life conrad never imagined for his only daughter who, like aden, is also a heroin addict. >> i always thought she wouldn't do that. and she would tell me that she wouldn't, you know. you want to believe your child. >> conrad and his wife raised their daughter in a catholic household. they sent her to good schools in
their middle class community. >> what was your daughter like when she was a little girl? >> she was well-behaved, focused, good in school. i had it easy. >> a daddy's girl? >> 100%. had me wrapped around her finger. still does. >> almost two months ago, conrad's 22-year-old daughter walked away from rehab and disappeared. >> this was her sanctuary. this was her place. she was always very inquisitive and always trying to find out new things. every day when i wake up, i always look in here, like a dog making his rounds, have to check every family member, you know, i'd always come in here to check and make sure she's okay. >> so what went wrong? >> 2 1/2, 3 years ago, my wife and i had gotten notified by the mother of one of her friends. she said, well, you know, your daughter is using heroin. >> how did that make you feel?
>> i was floored. my heart died. it was like being told my child had a terminal illness. >> you knew more than most people. >> 100%. saw it every day. arrested people, saw the living conditions, the filth, and knew exactly where this was going for her. >> conrad tells me things quickly spiraled out of control. his daughter began to lie and steal to feed her addiction. when she couldn't commit to rehab, they had to do the unthinkable. >> my wife and i told her she could no longer live here, as cold hearted as that sounds, this is what gets a lot of people sober. i remember, she's sitting there with her backpack crying. and we're crying. and my wife and i are asking each other, do you think we're doing the right thing?
that was the hardest thing i have ever done in my life and i've done some hard things. >> where's your daughter now? >> we don't know. >> are you okay? >> no. >> are you afraid she's going to die? >> yes, i am afraid of that. i can't do anything about it. you know? i can't even help my own daughter. all i wanted was a healthy kid. that's all we ever wanted was a healthy kid. >> it's a fear that every parent has. is my child okay? and it's what compels conrad to go out searching for his daughter night after night. >> do you know if she has ever been out here? >> i know she has. i know she has.
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will you be needing anything else? not a thing. beautyrest black. get your beautyrest. the city of chicago has been making headlines for escalating violence and high rates of murder. one of the biggest killers here is heroin. almost every day someone dies from an overdose. when a bad batch hits the streets, dozens end up in the morgue. conrad is desperate to find his daughter before she becomes part of this grim statistic. what are you looking for when
you come out here? >> i always hope i will see her when i come here. try to talk to her, hope that she is doing okay. >> what are the scenarios that run through your head when you look for her? >> is she stealing? is she victimizing other people? is she allowing herself to be victimized? anything is possible. >> we're in chicago's west side, a poor neighborhood hit hard by the latest influx of heroin, where users like conrad's daughter can score easily. >> dope spot, dope dealing going on. >> this is conrad's old beat. he knows exactly where the drugs are being sold. what is that place? >> that's to get on the train. you could walk right in there and buy heroin. >> is it very dangerous out here? >> extremely. that's part of the tragedy of this disease.
that it will take a young girl like her and put her right in the middle of drug dealing gang bangin heaven. >> it's easy to think this is just a place where dangerous criminals want to make a buck, but in fact it's far more complicated. chicago was once the promised land for black americans from the south who flocked here seeking jobs and opportunity. but over the last few decades, as industries dried up, factories shut down and the drug trade moved in to fill the void. today i'm being introduced to this world by a man who knows it well, another heroin addict. he's willing to show me around but only if we hide his face and obscure our cameras behind tinted windows. >> don't hesitate too much on this corner. hit the brake lights and keep going. >> okay. >> over here, this is all they
do is sell drugs all day long, you know. now over here, you see where the maroon guy is, them boys right there? >> yep. >> that's where they sell, from right there. >> over the years have you noticed more heroin being sold on the streets? >> yeah. quite a lot. it is really growing. >> who do they primarily sell to. >> the majority is black but they don't spend the money the whites do. whites come from the suburbs and spend more. they come to spend 300, 400 at one time. they look for the white customers more than they do any customer. >> we stop at a hot spot where a group of dealers are hanging out by a car. right away, a man approaches them on his bike. >> is that a white guy? >> uh-huh. >> is he making a purchase? >> uh-huh.
there he go. right there. white boy got it, now he gone. >> white people from outside of the city are clearly playing a part in fuelling this market, but the vast majority of drug-related arrests happen in places like this and affect generations of poor black families caught up in the trade. sam and mark are two brothers from the west side who have been selling and using heroin and paying the price for it their whole lives. >> when was the first time you both got locked up. how old were you? >> i was 15. >> what did you get locked up for? >> possession. >> my first time i was 12 -- not 12, but 13. >> what was it for? >> possession with attempt to deliver. >> how widespread has drug use been in your family? >> as long as i can remember. i grew up around it which is probably one of the reasons why i got involved in it in the first place.
>> and me, same way. ain't like it didn't exist when i was born and ain't like it didn't exist when my mama was born. >> sam and mark tell me their mother overdosed three times, once right in front of them. and sam, just 13 years old, called 911. >> i didn't think about it for a second. if i didn't pay attention, i wouldn't have been able to save my mom. she wouldn't be here. >> was your dad in your life? >> no. >> where was he? >> i don't know. that's one of the main reasons why i can honestly say why we are so close now because of what we have been through. >> you guys have each other's backs? >> yeah. >> with an absent father, sam and mark were left to fend for themselves and soon found a way on the streets selling heroin as early as 14 years old. >> my mom had five kids. so i thought i was helping, you
know, make ends meet by paying bills and things like that. >> are you saying that you started to sell drugs to help your mom pay bills initially? >> yeah. yeah. but then doing that it became a lifestyle. >> selling and using went hand in hand. it led both sam and mark to jail numerous times. now you have felonies on your record, how hard is it to become productive members of society? >> they say they help ex-felons, but i'm just on the waiting list. >> have you applied for a lot of jobs? >> yeah. i want to go to the medical field. they don't hire ex-felons. they are, i want to go to the city, i may want to change my life all the way bean a police officer. they don't hire ex-felons. what do you expect me to do? >> do you think white people who get locked up are given more opportunities than black people who are locked up? >> a lot of us may get
incarcerated or locked up and ain't got the money to bond out or bail out. they do. they will have a lawyer or something that can fight for them to get out of there and get them in a program. >> for now sam and mark are clean, scraping by to support their family and doing their best to stay out of jail. >> i went and got a trade. i'm doing building maintenance. we currently start our own self employment. >> one more arrest and they could be doing serious time. >> i'm not looking at no slap on the wrist. i'm not looking at no two, three years, three four years in prison. my minimum is eight years plus. >> but what penalties are white users paying for their own part in the drug trade? i'm about to meet a young woman who's come face to face with the cops and got a free pass. >> the kid i was with had 3 1/2 grams of it and the cop saw all of that and he was get the
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>> 19-year-old claire has five numbers on her phone she calls more than any others. these are her dealers, who feed a daily heroin habit that has cost her just about everything. she lives in a mostly empty house and is pawned off all of her valuables to support her addiction. >> what kinds of things have you sold? >> all of my old cell phones, all of my game systems, ipod, pretty much everything worth value. i even sold my microwave. >> how do you pay your rent? >> i did have a job, and i paid like two months rent, but they saw my track marks and so they got rid of me. >> it's been 19 hours since claire last used and she's showing serious signs of withdrawal. >> some people throw up. i throw up a lot but it is like your eyes are consistently tearing like you are crying. my nose is running really bad. it's like you have the flu and there's no sleep on top of that.
>> are you planning to get anything any time soon? >> yeah. i'm actually waiting for someone. would you mind if i -- >> no, go ahead. is this a dealer you are calling? >> yeah. >> what's up? >> hey. >> hey, what's up? where are you at? >> i'm in my house. >> like 20 minutes. you going to come over? >> right. >> all right, bye. >> so you have a dealer who comes to your house? >> he meets me in an alley. >> how much money will you spend when your dealer comes? >> 50. >> is that all the money to your name? >> yeah. it's like i don't want to live like this but i have been pushing detox aside every day. i really, really want to, but the only thing that is stopping me is being sick. >> claire tells me her parents live nearby and they have tried to help her but she continues to shut them out.
>> do you think your mom is worried about you? >> i know she is. >> this is not how things were supposed to turn out. claire was a girl on track who had a lot of potential. how did you do in school? >> i graduated high school national honor society. i did really well in school. school was my number one priority. >> did you play sports or anything? >> yeah, i was a softball player for five years. i was a cheerleader for nine years. it's like everything i picked up i was always good at. i figured i could be anything i wanted to be when i grew up. >> just 15 months ago, claire was introduced to heroin by an ex-boyfriend. >> i had no idea was addiction was. i was really experienced with club drugs, but i never thought that i would ever be a heroin addict. >> you have done a lot of things that you regret in the 15 months you have been addicted to heroin? >> oh, yeah.
i've done a lot of things i regret. i have sold myself for money. i've been a stripper. i've put myself on backpage. it has taken over my entire life, my brain, my soul. i would sell my soul for heroin. oh, my god. >> how are you feeling right now? >> really [ bleep ], i mean, wow. >> so claire is starting to get very sick. she is in the bathroom vomiting right now. when she finally emerges, claire's dealer has arrived. >> i have to go to the alley real quick. i will be back. >> okay. >> we wait in her empty house and when she returns minutes later she heads straight to her room to prep her dope.
how do you feel right now? >> i feel like i'm about to be throw up, again. >> that looks like a lot. >> it's not. >> it's not? >> no. damn it. oh, my god, my stomach hurts so bad. ♪ >> oh, sweet. >> you feel it already? >> yeah. i'm not sick at all. >> you are not sick at all? >> no. sweet. can you describe the feeling? >> best feeling in the world.
my body is really, really tingly and warm but a good warm. it's like that feeling you get after you have sex, right after you orgasm. that's exactly what it feels like, an orgasm on steroids. >> claire tells me that chasing this feeling has led her to use in public places where she once had a close brush with the law. >> it was on the west side one day, and i was in the bathroom stall, an actual chicago police officer was banging on the door. all i remember is banging on the door, opening it with a needle still in my arm. he walked me to the car because i couldn't walk straight. the kid i was with had 3 1/2 gram, and the cop saw all of that and he said get the -- out of the west side and didn't do anything. >> claire got lucky. in the state of illinois if you are caught with less than 15 grams you can face less than three years in prison. >> doing heroin, it is not because i want to be [ bleep ],
your brain knows there is no better feeling in the world. i would like to see you fight your brain every single day. >> claire, i mean, i look around your apartment, for example, you have nothing. you don't have a single dollar to your name right now. so while you feel really great -- >> i know. >> you have nothing. >> i know. i would love to get clean if i knew i had something to look forward to. i want to be happy. i want to have a job to go to. i want to live in a place that's beautiful. >> all of those things are things that are completely attainable. completely. >> it doesn't feel like it. >> how long can this continue? how long can you do this? >> i can't do it anymore.
i can't. i think i'm going to follow through with detox. >> are you ready to do it? >> i guess. i can't do this anymore. [ crying ] >> but as we talk about leaving for the hospital, we hit a wall. claire has leftover heroin. >> i'm going to do the rest of it. just my last huzzah. i'm not going to throw it away. i'm going to do it all. >> claire is caught between her desire to get clean and her need to use. it's heart-breaking to watch. and i'm left wondering what choice she'll make. and for kids like claire, there are choices. new programs where addicts are getting help from an unlikely source. >> bring your drugs. we are not going to arrest you. no arrest, no nothing.
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offering users treatment instead of jail time. >> okay. so, commander, let's say i'm a heroin addict and i walk through the doors of this place. what will the process be like for me? >> sure, what i would do is sit you down and listen to what is going on with you and say all right, we'll get you off this addiction so you are no longer buying the drugs. and we will fund you to go in and get treatment. >> let me get this straight. an addict walks in. it doesn't matter how much heroin he or she has on him or her? >> we are targeting the user, the addict. if they have personal use of heroin on them and the needles and syringes and we will simply destroy it. that's it. no arrests, no nothing. just get you in a program and get you help. >> that is a very unusual thing to expect of a police department. what precipitated that change? >> we are kidding ourselves if we don't believe that heroin is as crazy epidemic that is going on. a lot of people don't want to believe it.
in law enforcement we see it. we see it all the time. >> what are the primary demographics of this community? >> we are 85% white. >> overall it is a pretty white -- >> pretty dominant white community, yes, ma'am. >> in the years since the rolling meadows program began, two other suburban areas have also opened their doors offering treatment over incarceration. the reality is both regions are affluent and mostly white. in the poverty-stricken inner city, trying to get treatment through the local police department isn't an option. and if users get caught with heroin, nine times out of ten they end up here in the cook county jail. >> anything in your pockets? >> nope. >> turn around. put your arms up, please. >> i'm headed inside to the men's division. >> okay. thank you. >> thank you. >> one out of six male inmates in the cook county jail have used heroin in the days leading up to their arrests. while the fastest growing
population of users in the country is young, white kids, you wouldn't be able to tell here. >> are you seeing a lot of young white kids from the suburbs in these facilities? >> if it's going on outside, it's not showing up in this jail right now. >> why do you think that is given the fact the population seems to be exploding? >> that population may not be getting arrested. they may be that active young culture that is avoiding being arrested even though they are using illegal substance. >> in chicago, black americans are eight times more likely to be stopped and frisked by police than white, which dramatically increases their chances of getting arrested and landing here. out of the estimated 1400 inmates who have used heroin, only a fraction will get help with their addiction behind bars. ♪brother brother can't you see ♪ brother, brother, can't you see ♪ >> this is division 6, home to
the cook county residential drug treatment program where low-level offenders are trying hard to throw off the shackles of addiction. >> i became a heroin addict at like 17. here i am, 37 times in the county jail, 51 years old, i'm sitting in the county jail again. and peruse my art collection, which consists of renaissance classics and more avant-garde pieces. yes, i am rich. that's why i drink the champagne of beers.
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i pledge that take control of my life. >> by maintaining my sobriety. >> by maintaining my sobriety. >> here in division 6 in the cook county jail, inmates are seeking treatment for all kinds of drug addiction. the most common is heroin. >> i've been arrested, incarcerated here in the county jail 37 times. what i've sacrificed was my children for heroin. i sacrificed my family for heroin. i sacrificed my health for heroin. my decision making went out the window, man. i walked away from family. i walked away from possibilities of greatness.
>> my love for heroin has made this become my home. i live in jail and periodically visit the streets. i just about sold my soul to the devil when i started using heroin. >> in chicago, state-funded treatment on the outside has been slashed by more than 50%. cuts that disproportionately affect black users. for many of these men, this may be the only treatment they'll ever get. >> the rumors are true, that miracles happen here. i ain't where i want to be, but i'm damn sure ain't where i used to be. and that's something to be grateful for right there. >> in the early years when you first started getting arrested, were you offered my kind of treatment? >> when i first came through the county jail it was at 1983. they pretty much didn't do anything for you at that time. >> when i got to that police station it wasn't no treatment.
it was you got a background and that's about the bottom line. >> right now in the chicago suburbs, but also in this country, if you go to a police department, or in some cases the police may even approach you and say if you give up your heroin, instead of arresting you, they'll give you an opportunity to get treatment. when you hear that, how does it make you feel? >> i don't think that's ever going to happen. >> not in our community. if i take any drugs i'm going to jail. >> in our neighborhoods, we don't have those programs, you know. we don't have the officers that will be the good samaritans and say come on, let me help you rather than arrest you. it ain't happening that way. >> i wasn't born on the right side of the tracks. i wasn't offered the same. it is a total betrayal. what about me? i feel like it is bull -- that's how i feel. >> do you think that if that opportunity were offered to you, years and years ago to go in to treatment right away your lives would be different and you would
not have repeatedly gotten incarcerated? >> most definitely. >> yes. >> yes. >> if i would have gotten treatment earlier, i probably wouldn't have been through what i went through. if my uncles, and my aunties or my grandparents, if they was given that opportunity, i wouldn't be here. and i probably would have had a better life. >> unlike enrolling meadows, most of these men will leave this program with felony ts on their records. making employment difficult and barring them from many forms of public assistance. and for those interested in further treatment, few options are available. >> when they say chicago has an epidemic, chicago the whole. so why not try to fix the whole instead of just fixing certain parts? >> politicians say we need a new approach to drug policy, but who will benefit? and who will remain trapped in a cycle of crime and poverty?
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wants to go tonight and she said, i'm down. i'd be surprised if she actually would agree to go in and go, but i'd love to be surprised. claire wants us to pick her up and take her to the hospital for a three-day detox. we find her on the south side where she's been crashing with a friend. >> can i put this in your trunk? >> yep. i'm super proud of you. this will be so inspiring for you. >> i know. >> and motivating for you. claire tells me she needs to make a stop on the way. her mother has known about her struggle with heroin, but believed her when she said she was no longer using. now, claire needs to tell the truth. >> there's my mom's building right there. right there in front of us. park at the edge right here. >> but claire wants to do one thing before she goes inside. >> what are you doing now.
>> throwing everything away. >> throwing what away? >> throwing all of my paraphernalia and needles and pipes in the garbage. >> how does that feel? >> pretty -- uh, i don't know. all right. put it deep down where no children can get this. good-bye. that can go too. >> with one weight lifted off her chest, claire and i now go in without cameras to face her mother. >> how you doing? >> i'm so glad to see you. >> mommy, i love you. >> i love you too. >> and i really want you to be proud of me. >> you know i'm always here for you, right? >> i'm sorry, mommy.
i'm sorry. i'm going to detox tonight. >> you are? >> i need to detox to get the shit out of my system. >> and you're ready to do this? >> i'm doing it. i can't do this anymore. i'm exhausted. i can't -- i can't [ bleep ] do this anymore. >> put all that stuff behind you. >> i'm so sorry. >> you can do it. i know you can do it. >> so claire just told her mom. and it was very, very emotional. you could tell that she has a lot of doubt in her because when you're the parent of a drug addict, your lied to so frequently. claire seems determined. she's ready to go, and this is big. so how are you feeling? >> excited and scared, but
ready. >> this is claire's moment of truth. >> that's the door to go in over there. >> i'm ready to live my life. i'm sick of bag slave to powder in a bag. i'm ready to get this over with. >> let's go. >> let's go. >> let's go. >> while claire starts on the long road to a possible recovery, sam and mark work hard to stay off the streets and away from heroin. the hope is to keep their kids from being the next generation, destroyed by this drug. >> i don't want my kids going through what i went through or experiencing the things that i experienced. growing up in life. the years that they needed me the most, i wasn't there.
the example i'm trying to set is plain as day. i don't say what tomorrow holds because, i don't know, but definitely my plan is to not fail. that's the plan. not to fail. thank you, father god, as we sit down and eat -- >> sam and mark are determined to stay clean, but heroin relapse is all too common. and nearly 80% of drug offenders are eventually reincarcerated. no matter who you are, black or white, selling or using, once heroin takes hold, it's hard to break free. and chicago is struggling in the face of this crisis.
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