It’s been five years since Kelly Mothershead’s son, Jason, died of an overdose.
It was of Oxycontin and heroin.
“He had a great heart. He was an awesome kid with a great heart,” Mothershead said.
Jason’s addiction started in his 20’s after an injury at work lead him to prescription pills, then harder drugs.
“I was shocked because, the era that I grew up, I thought that was heroin and that it had gone away. I didn’t realize that heroin was back as strong as it is. And now today even stronger,” said Mothershead.
The numbers are frightening.
The Florida Medical Examiners Commission reports a 124-percent increase in heroin deaths in this state.
There are hot spots in South Florida, Sarasota and Bradenton, but the problem is spreading.
In many cases, experts said it’s because of the crackdown on prescription pill abuse.
“We are paying more attention to opioids, and as a result that opioid market has been constrained and heroin has fallen right in it’s place,” said Mark Fontaine, executive director of the Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association.
Heroin is highly addictive and it’s now hitting groups with historically low rates of use. Those with higher incomes and women.
Spikes in heroin use was just one of many topics discussed at Friday’s Substance Abuse Prevention Conference put on the Pasco County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention.
Meanwhile, Kelly deals with the loss of her son by trying to help others.
She said her son’s story shows you never know when addiction can hit.
“He was 26 years old. He wasn’t a baby. He went through all of school without the addictions. He was doing what he wanted to do and as an adult became addicted,” said Mothershead.
Experts are pushing for more funding for heroin treatment and therapy.
They also say more training is needed for first responders to deal with the growing number of overdoses.