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16-year-old boy shares story of surviving his parents' drug addiction

Zaine Pulliam, 16, lost both of his parents to a heroin overdose. Now he uses his story to lead others to a better life. (WCHS/WVAH)

ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) - Zaine Pulliam, 16, lost both of his parents to a heroin overdose a year ago.

Amanda and Austin Pulliam were found dead inside their South Charleston home last April. Zaine is now speaking out about how he survived and protected his two younger sisters.

When he was just 10 years old, Zaine noticed something was different. He said his parents spent a lot of time in their room with the door locked. The curious young boy climbed up on top of the water heater to peek in their bedroom window. He said he will never forget that image.

"I didn't know what it was at the time," Zaine said. "I saw them shooting heroin. A few years went by and they found out I knew about it. They told me not to tell anyone. I knew I had to keep my sisters away from it so they wouldn't know."

Last April, his parents died from an overdose. He was left with his grandmother and now helps take care of his two younger sisters.

"They don't have a mom or a dad figure to look up to," Zaine said. "They have me and my maw maw. It's been hell. You can try to imagine what it's like, but it's worse than you can imagine."

Despite the anger Zaine has dealt with, he holds on to his memory of good parents. He said he does not believe his parents did this purposefully. He said they were sick with a terrible disease and it's up to him to spread awareness to everyone.

"If I can save anyone from this, I feel like I'm living successfully. I want people to know my parents were not bad people. They didn't choose this. It's something that happens to your brain." he said.

Now Pulliam is using his story to lead people to a new life. On Sunday, he appeared at Foundations Church of God in St. Albans to speak about his ordeal. He stands beside the former addicts with whom his parents used drugs to speak about how addiction changes all lives. Their motto is "Dope dealers to hope dealers." Pulliam said he hopes to save as many lives as he can with his story.

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