I met Ryder in The Bluff, an Atlanta neighborhood that is known for drugs and prostitution. She told me that she grew up in John’s Creek which is the wealthiest community in Georgia.
Ryder: I got mugged and raped last night. He tazed me like thirty times. It was in the middle of the street. He did it right up the street from here. I was screaming at the top of my lungs and nobody did anything. It was 4:00 AM. I was under a camera while this was happening (new police camera in the neighborhood). I’d never been tazed before. I thought when you got tazed you locked up but he just kept doing it and doing it.
BW: Did you call the cops?
Ryder: No, because I’d get in trouble because I was trying to get money and having sex for money is illegal. It’s happened before. In the beginning I did tell… I mean, they do the swab and that’s it. You get lost in the system. Just another number.
BW: How’d you get started using heroin?
Ryder: I was a competitive gymnast and cheerleader in high school. I messed my knee up so they put me on Oxycontin. I was on it for so long… I didn’t even know what heroin was. I’d heard of it but I didn’t know… I tried it and it was like the love of my life.
BW: How long were you on Oxy before trying heroin?
Ryder: I was chasing the high. My doctor kept prescribing it even after my knee had healed. She was like, “Does your back hurt?” I’d say no and she’d say, “Your back is hurt.”
BW: What’s your relationship like with your family?
Ryder: Actually, right now it’s pretty decent. I was doing really good. I’d been sober. I went home for Christmas for the first time in like seven years. I don't like to ask them for help because I’ve put them through a lot. You know and I’m adopted…
BW: Do you think being adopted was part of it for you?
Ryder: I think so. I mean, I had fetal alcohol syndrome. My birth mom used heroin and crack when I was in her stomach. I was a premature baby.
My parents are really good people. I have two older brothers and they’re biological to my parents and I stick out like a sore thumb. They’re all tall blonde with blue eyes and I’m not. As I got older, I was never really involved in conversations with my parents. My brothers picked on me. I just… I felt like an outsider. The black sheep.
Some of Metro Atlanta's most affluent communities, including John's Creek, Alpharetta, and Marietta have seen a 4000% increase in heroin related deaths in the last 6 years.