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The heroin problem

How a national drug epidemic has made its way into Syracuse’s eastern suburbs

Melissa Hosier, of East Syracuse, holds a picture of her daughter, Kali Perry, who passed away in November 2013 after overdosing on heroin.

Melissa Hosier, of East Syracuse, holds a picture of her daughter, Kali Perry, who passed away in November 2013 after overdosing on heroin. Allie Wenner

— As she was growing up, Kali Perry wanted to be an artist. A 2012 graduate of East Syracuse Minoa High School, Perry was a high honor roll student who was involved in the school’s art program. She did a little bit of everything: drawing, painting and pottery, according to her mom, Melissa Hosier, of East Syracuse.

But on Nov. 4, 2013, Perry’s dreams were cut short at age 19 when she overdosed after taking too much heroin. It came as a shock to those close to her – Perry, with her long red hair and bright blue eyes, who showed up for work at her full-time job regularly – she just didn’t seem like someone who was addicted to heroin, said Hosier.

“She was normal – an all-American, normal kid that came from a pretty normal family,” Hosier said. “I mean, I wasn’t an addict. I didn’t have any drugs in the house, including prescription pills. You would never look at her and think, ‘Oh, well she does heroin.’ You would never think that... I didn’t.”

Hosier found out about her daughter’s addiction last June, when Perry’s then-boyfriend approached her.

“He said, ‘Kali’s using heroin.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, right – sure she is.’ I thought he was lying to me. ‘She would never do that; she’s too strong of a person,’ I said. I couldn’t even talk, I didn’t know what to do,” Hosier said.

Described by her mom as “very independent,” it came as no surprise to Hosier when Perry announced she wanted to get her own apartment after high school. She told her mother that she wanted to take a year off before applying to college to decide what she really wanted to do while working a full-time job in the meantime.

Perry moved out and soon found a good job that paid well. From far away, it seemed like a good situation. But Hosier said that when she started to look a little closer, she began to believe that her daughter’s problem started at this job, where she became friends with people who were heroin users.

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