Nation: Kids and Heroin: The Adolescent Epidemic

Doctor: Do you think you'd like to die, Ralphie?

Ralph: No.

Doctor: Then why do you want to go home?

Ralph: 'Cause I want to.

Doctor: Are you going to shoot more heroin?

Ralph: I dunno.

An ex-addict, 16: You gonna shoot dope, Ralphie. You gonna be in jail or you gonna be dead. The pushers ain't gonna disappear just 'cause you comin' home, Ralphie.

RALPH DE JESUS is twelve years old, a 60-lb. wisp of a boy barely four feet tall, with gentle eyes and pale arms so thin that it is almost...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!