Heroin epidemic sweeping Connecticut, but one local woman has been clean for 18 years

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The heroin epidemic in Connecticut hits close to home for a local woman who is a recovering addict herself.

Rebecca Allen tells FOX 61, “I feel very fortunate I'm still here. Many of the people I used heroin with 18 years ago are dead.”

In fact, the number of heroin-related deaths increased about 20 percent from 2014 to 2015.

It was 18 years ago that the 47-year-old’s life really got started. That’s when she decided she was done with heroin. For 10 years her world revolved around it.

Allen says she started using heroin when she was 20 years old in college while she had a young daughter.

She says, “I went from snorting heroin to two weeks later, I was shooting heroin.”

Six months later she says abandoned her daughter and spiraled out of control. Allen says it got to the point where she was homeless, physically ill all the time, shoplifting, and even robbing homes.

“Steal money, things to sell. I have a gun charge because one of the homes we stole rifles. So, I have a long record," said Allen.

After giving birth to her second child while in prison, she knew she had to get help. The first year of her daughter's life she went to a half-way house, got counseling, a job and started feeling great. After one full year of no heroin use and being out on parole, she used heron again and went back to prison for six months.

It was being in prison that final time that Allen realized how much better her life was getting while she was clean and in a recovery program.

She says, “One of the things that helped me was to see people who were clean and living life to know there's hope.”

Now she's clean, and she recently became the first person in her family to get a master's degree.

Allen is now in a similar role. She works at the Connecticut Community for Addiction and Recovery Services and works hard every day to get her story out in the public.

For more on the CCARS, click here.