LoHud: Heroin, pain-pill addicts face lifelong struggle

Countless heroin users have relapsed on their road to recovery during the past 38 years Harris Stratyner, a New York psychologist, has worked with Lower Hudson Valley drug treatment programs.

Cases of people battling addiction for months and years only to return to drugs have also mounted since 2010, as heroin-related deaths skyrocketed and claimed 230 lives in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

John DeFonce, a former Harrison high school athlete and heroin user, may be the latest case. He died Sunday after completing a 90-day treatment program at St. Christopher’s Inn in Garrison. DeFonce was a resident at the program’s halfway house in White Plains and left on a weekend pass, a program official said.

No cause of death was given, however, by authorities. An autopsy and a toxicology report are pending.

Stratyner, who is also a Mount Sinai School of Medicine associate professor, said treatment programs are voluntary in most cases and many heroin users relapse, regardless of the circumstances.

“There is certainly no cure for this disease,” he said.

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