LAS VEGAS -- From the poorest streets to the richest suburbs, people from all walks of life in Las Vegas are getting hooked on a killer drug. The prescription drug epidemic is fueling a rise in heroin use.
An 8 News Now analysis reveals, heroin overdoses in Clark County have increased 44 percent in the past three years. In 2011, there were 32 heroin overdose deaths. That number increased to 44 in 2012 and to 46 in 2013. Already, two people have died this year.
Metro Police Detective A. Burnett can't show her face because she works undercover to bust drug dealers. Working in narcotics, she has seen the horror of heroin.
"One of the worst cases that I've seen where it involved an overdose with heroin ... was a naked female lying face down on a bed, and she had open sores throughout her body," she said.
Metro has seen a rise in heroin, and it's all connected to the pill popping epidemic. People addicted to prescription drugs get hooked and then turn to heroin.
"Unfortunately, heroin can be easier, and it's cheaper to obtain," Burnett said.
The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is shedding light on the dark underworld of the heroin trade.
"Most of our heroin in the Las Vegas valley and Clark County does come from the south, in Mexico, and the majority is black tar heroin," Burnett said.
The black tar heroin is usually wrapped in foil and packaged in small multi-colored balloons. China white heroin is more common in the eastern United States. Whatever the form, it is a bad habit that's getting worse.
"There's a resurgence of heroin," said Dr. Mel Pohl, the medical director of the Las Vegas Recovery Center. "Recovery is not one and done. Recovery is a process that really starts with putting down the drug and continues really for the person's entire life."
Pohl says out of the 30 years he's been treating people with addictions, he's seeing more patients hooked on heroin.
A recent study found Nevada has the fourth highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States. Monday will be known as "Black Monday" in the valley, a day to raise awareness about heroin addiction and the lives lost to this epidemic.