In high school, Rachael was a good student, a stand out field hockey player, and a musician. Her parents divorced when she was young and she said her father wasn’t especially involved in her life. Rachael told Eyewitness News that made it hard to cope with senior year stress and the pressure to earn an athletic scholarship. "All that stress and all the pressure, I just didn't want to think about it, like I didn't want to constantly feel that way. I felt anxious and nervous and pressured to do the right thing."
Her boyfriend at the time told her a pill could take it all away. "His dad had bad knees and he had Vicodin in the house and we could just grab it at any time and he wouldn't even notice it was missing,” she recalled.
She later turned to Oxycodone. At first she took it a few times a week, eventually she took it a few times a day. It led her to throw away the field hockey scholarship she had worked so hard to earn. "It wanted the drugs over the sport. The sport was my passion and I completely regret it now. But at the time I wanted the drugs. And if I played field hockey I would have to quit all the drugs,” she said.
When the pills became too expensive, Rachael switched to heroin. She said, "The second I tried it, I knew, like once the needle came out of my arm, I knew that I was addicted."
Rachael craved heroin all day, every day. She got fired. Her grades plummeted. She dropped out of school. To feed her habit, she sold all of her valuable possessions. When she ran out of things to sell, she started stealing to feed her ravenous addiction. She frowned, "I stole an old lady's purse out of her cart. I am that person that I saw in the movies running by and grabbing someone's purse and being a criminal. I did that."
Once Rachael got caught stealing books from a university bookstore. She spent a night in prison and soon realized it was time to make a change. He spent nearly a month in rehab and is now sober.
She warns young people not to try even one pill because you don’t know where it could lead you. "If I hadn't started with pills, I wouldn't have needed something stronger and cheaper and moved on to heroin. It probably never would have happened if I didn't start with pills,” she said.
Rachael urges parents to lock up prescriptions, closely supervise their teenagers, and don’t be afraid to discipline them. "I would have hated it but I think it would have been better for me because I've never been grounded. I told my friends that before like I've never been grounded. What's that like? And I think that would have given me a little bit more discipline and maybe I could have disciplined myself better when I needed to,” she said.
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.