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SACRAMENTO - A nationwide heroin epidemic has not spared Northern California.

"What we are seeing today are people of all different races, incomes, religions. It's an equal opportunity affliction," said Jon Daily, LCSW, founder of Recovery Happens Counseling Services in Sacramento and Davis.

"It's affecting everyone from private schools, public schools, from 17 years old to 45 years old," Daily said.

The recent death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman of an apparent heroin overdose in New York City has highlighted what drug counselors already know.

"The thing about heroin is that it's not just a Phillip Seymour issue, it's a national epidemic right now," Daily declared.

And one local man who's battling heroin addiction agrees.

"It's out there all over the place and it's pretty cheap and it's one of the worst ones," said the young man we'll call Jason, who's trying to kick the drug at a local treatment facility.

According to Daily, the move to heroin accelerated over the last few years after the maker of Oxycontin reformulated the drug, making it almost impossible to crush and shoot with a needle or inhale. The price differential also made heroin a much more popular choice.

"It was $80 for oxycontin and it's only $5 to $10 for heroin," Daily said.

"It's affecting everyone from private schools, public schools, from 17 years old to 45 years old," Daily said.

Jason said the progression from a euphoric high from heroin to a painful withdrawal without the drug, is quick.

"It doesn't take long before you're only using to feel normal instead of going through pain," Jason explains.

According to Daily, it takes a multi-pronged approach that often includes the legal system, the addict's employer and the support of family members.

"The family needs to be a part of the process, too," Daily said. "Everyone's affected. Everyone has a part in the illness and everyone has a part in the wellness."

Jason said he has real support from only one or two family members, but that most don't want to have anything to do with him.

"They kind of want me out of their lives because of the drugs."

As he spoke to a reporter, Jason was covered in sweat, even on a cool night, and acknowledged how hard it may be to win the battle ahead.

"It controls my life."

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