WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Only on 9, we have a follow-up to a story we first brought you last December. It's about a young heroin addict from our area whose efforts to find treatment has taken an unexpected turn.
Lucas Miller is in many ways a typical addict — on a roller coaster of rehabs and relapses. But what his desperate mother did to get him help makes his story unusual.
"He's my son. He's got a disease. He doesn't want to be like this," said Carin Miller.
When we met Lucas last December, the 24-year-old was on an uphill path to recovery, trying to reject his constant craving for heroin.
Back then, he told us through tears, "From the second you wake up to the second you go to bed at night, that's all you worry about."
The man who promised to stay clean slipped back into the unrelenting clench of addiction.
"It came on slowly, but at some point it came on with a vengeance," described Carin.
Earlier this month, Lucas traveled to Mexico and learned about a controversial treatment that's gaining popularity among heroin addicts. It's called ibogaine, is derived from a plant found in Africa and is illegal in the United States.
We asked Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University, whether he would prescribe the drug if it was legal.
"No, I would not," he said. "Doctors are expected to prescribe medication based on clinical evidence. And the clinical evidence is simply not there. We're guessing when we use a drug like this and considering the reports of death, it is probably not a good idea to guess."
Carin Miller wondered aloud, "The system here says it's too dangerous. What is shooting up heroin?"
"When all of the safe and effective alternatives have been exhausted, it's understandable that people are willing to potentially risk their lives to try something that gives them hope," said Dr. Lieberman.
Hope is all Carin Miller has left. She put her faith, and $7,500, into the one-week program.
"I can't have this in the house with my other children," Carin told us. "His siblings are so sad. They just want their brother back. Me and my husband are so sad. All we want is our son back."
Their sadness is now on hold.
"I just have to have faith that this is going to work. And say my prayers," said Carin.
Lucas recently returned from the week-long program and his mother told us, she got her son back. But the treatment is short-lived, designed to curb cravings and withdrawals just 30 to 60 days. It's up to the patient to come up with a plan after that.
Written by Andrea McCarren, WUSA9