A Closer Look: The opioid epidemic

A Closer Look: The opioid epidemic

As a teenager, he started drinking alcohol and experimenting with drugs.

By 17, Derek Barnish had committed an armed robbery which landed him in jail.

He got out, but his drinking and drug use continued. He eventually got hooked on opioids and was taking handfuls of them at a time. Through it all, he lost his job, his girlfriend, his son, his relationship with his parents. He was homeless with nowhere to turn.

That was until he finally got help; now he has started the process of turning his life around. Now, he's eight months sober.

Derek says there are signs you can watch out for that may indicate a loved one is struggling with addiction. Things going missing, spending more time away from home and with different friends, staying out late, a drop in grades or productivity, and finding items like pill bottles, needles or other items are signs of possible addiction, Derek says.

In general, large changes in behavior can be a sign of addiction, Derek says. Things like depression or a messy bedroom could potentially be a consequence of addiction, but are just as likely (if not more so) to be merely be part of growing up.

Tuesday night on the NBC3 News at 6 we'll share more of Derek's story of addiction and recovery, his tips on what parents should watch for, and how he's trying to help other addicts Tuesday on the NBC3 News at 6.

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