Heroin doesn't discriminate

Ashly and Denise Milburn

As a nurse at St. Vincent Women's Hospital, Denise Milburn's job is to help patients. But when it comes to her own daughter, she is helpless.

"She's not ever stood out as someone who would destroy themselves like this," said Milburn.

"It's ruined my life," explained Denise’s daughter Ashly. "It's cost me everything. All kinds of money, jobs, my family."

"It" is heroin. A friend introduced Ashly to the drug when she was 17.

"It's almost cost me my life several times. It's just... horrible," said Ashly, now 23.

It hasn't always been this way. Ashly Milburn grew up on the southwest side, with plenty of family support.

"I came from a great home. Great childhood. My life was amazing. Until six years ago when I got on dope," she said.

"She used to be a nice girl," said Denise. "She is very smart, had some drive going to her, likes to dress up, put makeup on and stuff and as soon as she starts using heroin, all that goes. She doesn't care about anyone."

Including herself. She's now in the Marion County Jail.

"I've been in and out of jail since 2009," she explained.

Soon Ashly will be in prison. She's lied and stolen and broken into her mother's house all for drugs.

"I don't understand why she would chose heroin over me, it's like, I'm her mother but she does. It's that important to her," said Denise.

"I apologize all the time. And I tell her that I love her. And we talk about how stable I am right now," said Ashly.

Stable because in jail she has no access to heroin. She's been clean for over a month. And she admits, jail is good for her—helping to keep her away from heroin.

Ashly and her mother are sharing their story so that everyone will know:

"Heroin has been just a nightmare," said Denise.

And anyone who tries it is playing with fire.

"Heroin kills, heroin kills...heroin kills," said Denise emphatically. "That's what they need to know, these younger children that are getting into high school, that are just starting to experiment with their friends and stuff. They need to know how dangerous this is."

Ashly finally has hope. And she wants to help.

"Maybe parents will start talking to their children about drugs," she said.

Her mother agrees. "You need to know how bad that is. And if we tell them before it happens, maybe they won't get there."

Ashly says heroin makes her confident--it makes her feel good and the addiction is so strong that she keeps going back to the drug. She now faces a 15-month prison sentence, which she hopes will keep her clean long enough to break the habit for good.

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