Heroin deaths are climbing in southern Nevada. The Clark County Coroner’s Office reports 30 people have died from heroin overdose so far this year.
That compares with 57 heroin deaths last year, 48 deaths in 2013 and 44 deaths in 2012.
The drug is a problem in poor and rich communities.
Joseph Engle remembers the terrible day nearly four years ago of having to call 911 for his son Reese.
“His body was grey. They instructed me to get him off the bed and lay him down flat to try CPR, and I blew into his mouth, and I felt the air come back up through his nose,” he said.
Reese died from a heroin overdose when he was only 19 years old.
Heroin overdose deaths nearly quadrupled from 2002 and 2013, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control.
Leaders at Solutions Recovery, a drug rehabilitation center, say many people addicted to heroin are often from good neighborhoods.
“I thought we were going to be treating executives and professionals in Las Vegas, and we’re really treating the kids of executives and professionals in Las Vegas,” said Solutions Recovery President David Marlon.
Heroin addicts often start with pills that can be found in a home medicine cabinet. Their addiction can quickly spiral out of control.
“They go from a good kid to a pill user to an IV heroin injector,” Marlon said.
Community Counseling of Southern Nevada Director Ronald Lawrence says when people start shooting heroin into their veins, it can lead to serious health risks as well as addiction.
“With heroin use being on the rise, it’s unfortunate, but we can also see things like HIV infection being on the rise, as well as hepatitis C,” he said.
Engle now works with the group There’s No Hero in Heroin to help teens get off the drug. He says the addiction is turning into an epidemic.
“It doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It seems to be getting worse. It’s been four years since my son’s passing, and it hasn’t gotten better,” he said.
Drug rehab specialists say heroin is often cheaper than prescription pain killers on the street. So, an increasing number of people addicted to opiates are switching to heroin.