One mother said she found foils in her adult son's room and knew right away what they were for. Another said her son traded pain pills for black tar heroin so he could get one more high before entering rehab. It would end up being his last trade.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday the number of heroin deaths quadrupled in nearly a decade, calling it a "dramatic rise," in users.
Mothers in Orange County, who have lost their beloved children to heroin, are fighting back this statistic by becoming certified to administer Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opiate overdose at a time when the drug user stops breathing.
Top news of the day
Aimee Dunkle is one of those mothers.
Her son, Ben Dunkle started using heroin when he got a prescription for OxyContin after breaking an arm. His need to manage the pain eventually led Ben to a cheaper drug that he became addicted to...heroin.
"A bag of heroin was $10. He tried it, he smoked it," Aimee said.
After eight days on life support, Ben died with his brother by his side.
"People think an overdose is fast," Aimee said, describing her son's death. "It's not quick."
Another mother, Margie Fleitman, holds onto the last selfie her son would ever take. The same photo he took the night before he was suppose to enter rehab.
"Why are you using drugs before you go in?," Fleitman said she asked her son Mitchell Fleitman. "It made no sense to me. I said I will talk to you in the morning."
Mitchell was dead by the next morning at 22 years old.
Together, Aimee and Margie want to help users before it's too late.
Officials are mapping out so-called "hot zones" in Orange County where Naloxone has been given out by paramedics for drug overdoses. So far, the highest concentrations are in Santa Ana, Huntington Beach and Anaheim.
"This (Naxolone) reverses the effect of the narcotic on the brain and raises the consciousness level from coma to an alert state," Dr. Sam Stratton said.
The women plan to train others how to use the life-saving drug. Both believe their sons would be alive if it had been available to them and if a 911 call had been made in time.
"All you have to say is 'my friend's not breathing,' simple acts to save a life," Aimee said.
The OC Sheriff's Department is training its deputies how to administer the drug and may start a pilot program in the field soon.