Kicking The Habit

Plano, Texas, is an affluent, growing city of 200,000, nestled on the outskirts of Dallas. It's not the sort of place you'd expect would have a drug problem.

Over the last three years, more than 40 young people from Plano and the surrounding communities had died of heroin overdoses. Dozens more became addicts.

Among those who got involved with heroin and other drugs: sixteen-year-old Rachel Hubnik, who said she first smoked pot when she was 11. Correspondent Troy Roberts recently went to Plano to find out what it's like to be a teen-ager and a former drug abuser.

"When I was 12, I started doing acid and coke and speed," she said. "I remember on my 13th birthday, I was supposed to shoot up for the first time."

Rachel said that drugs made her feel like she could handle the pressure she felt. "Drugs made me feel better," she said. "If I had a hard day, I'd say, 'I'm going to go get high.' That was my attitude, my mentality."

Rachel's parents, Melody and Troy, don't understand why their daughter turned to drugs.

"It's not like she was a child of abuse who wasn't loved and adored," said Melody Hubnik, a single mother. "To this day, I'm not sure what she was missing that turned her to that."

A licensed therapist herself, Melody Hubnik, got her daughter into counseling. It didn't work. She sent her daughter to boarding school; Rachel got kicked out.

Desperate to save her daughter, Melody Hubnik installed a house alarm system to keep Rachel away from her drug-taking friends. Rachel continued to escape the house. One night, she left, and stayed away for a month. Rachel stayed in a garage in Fort Worth, getting high regularly.

"I would stay up for seven or eight nights at a time, doing speed and cocaine," she said. Her mother was very scared for her daughter, she said.

But 14 months ago, Rachel's friend, Stephanie Holley, died of a heroin overdose. "When Stephanie died, that was definitely my wake-up call," Rachel said.

For almost a year, Rachel has been clean. But she may not be out of the woods yet.

Former heroin addict Ed Cinisomo said that relapses can happen even to the most "reformed" abuser.

"Getting clean is pretty much easy," said Cinisomo, now a counselor at Daytop Village, a Dallas rehab center. "Staying clean is where the meat and potatoes is. And it takes a couple of tries sometimes."

Recently Cinisomo had to set up an intervention for an 18-year-old who had come to Daytop two years ago. He had relapsed and was set to return to the facility.

"It's a lot easier to use drugs than to change," said Cinisomo. This teen apparently wasn't ready to change yet: That day he didn't show up at Daytop.

"It's really frustrating," said Cinisomo. "We lose a lot of kids. Either they disappear or they die."

This drama is being played out not only in Texas, but all over the countr. Although recent federal statistics show drug use among kids is down, the average age of a first-time heroin user is getting younger: just 17.

When it comes to Rachael, she seems to taken control of her life. She has a boyfriend now and does the kind of things she missed while she was doing drugs. "I'm having a real good time with my life right now," she said. She is sure she will not relapse.

But neither Cinisomo nor Rachel's mother are sure. Both said that temptation can be strong.

I just got to put my mind to it, Rachel said. "I just got to do it. That's all there is to it. It's just me. Nobody else."

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Produced by David Kohn;