Heroin overdose deaths on the rise in Clark County
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) —
Heroin deaths have continued to rise in Clark County over the past few years.
The Coroner's office says between 2011 and 2015 the number of deaths has more than doubled and so far this year, there have been at least 16 deaths.
37-year-old Grant Denton has been clean for nearly two years, but he was on heroin for a long time. He says it started it out with pills: painkillers.
"At first, you'll never rob from your family and you run out of pills and you have to steal just this once," Denton said.
That began his crazy life that he says eventually led to using heroin. Denton says it didn't matter what form or how it went in, as long as he got his fix.
"It's euphoric," Denton said. "Quiets everything - whatever's going on in here. Whatever is going on in here, you do a shot or you do a smoke and it quiets it, just for a second."
He says he hit rock bottom when his family rejected him, including his young sons and even his grandmother.
Through Clark County Drug Court, Denton received a second chance to go through recovery or to go to prison.
He got clean and straightened up his life, but there has been loss. His best friend who was going through recovery died of an overdose.
Recovery experts in Las Vegas say Denton's story is the exception.
Escaping the grip of heroin is not easy, and at ROI Counseling, they have stones to write the names of people who have lost their lives to the deadly drug.
What is a common thread, they say, is the path to heroin: the mismanagement of opioid prescriptions such as hydrocodone or oxycodone.
"They start to have to take so much of it. It becomes so expensive for them to use through a prescription that they either start to buy those pills on the street and then go into heroin or switch from the pills to heroin use," said Amber Tarlton, Clinical Director of ROI Counseling in Las Vegas.
What worries the Drug Enforcement Administration is when heroin and opioids merge. There is a toxic mix of heroin cut with fentanyl showing up on the streets across the country that is causing fatal overdoses.
"You never know what your next batch is going to be. You never know what your next dosage unit is going to be, whether it's going to be laced with fentanyl or not and it's that unknown, of whether or not it's going to have fentanyl or not, and if it does it could be your last one," said David Neill, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA.
Join us on Wednesday, May 25, for a Town Hall discussion about this growing epidemic. The Heroin Epidemic -- Your Voice. Your Future Town Hall will stream on News3LV.com at 4 p.m.