LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- One step forward and a huge step back -- that's how you can describe Clark County's prescription drug abuse problem.
While the number of overdose deaths is down overall, more of the victims are young, according to an undercover Metro narcotics officer.
She says one of them died in his high school T-shirt.
The young man had passed out on his girlfriend's bed after injecting heroin. When she returned, surprisingly, he was still there.
The case was from October 2011, one of the 31 prescription drug and/or heroin over dose deaths in the youth category -- 17 to 23 years old.
Getting the drugs are easy
“Usually have drug runners all day in the car, delivering heroin balloons. They'll deliver from Summerlin, Green Valley to Sunrise Mountain,” the officer said.
The detective remembers one encounter.
“We stop him purchasing heroin balloon,” she said. “His heroin addiction was so bad, he had an entire grocery bag full of heroin balloons and tin foil.”
With college plans on the way, a deal was worked out and the teen was able to go. But on a winter break, he returned home.
“He went straight to his dealer. So this time, we got him and his heroin dealer and he had just purchased three balloons,” she said. “Needless to say, he didn't go to college, he did go to jail. He had two felony charges, but this kid could’ve been off doing amazing things.”
Jeff Thompson's story starts at 15, taking his first prescription painkiller to be cool.
That turned into an addiction to heroin -- and it wasn't a huge step to get there.
Without a lot of money, Thompson was doing anything to pay for his addiction.
“I pawned stuff, from my family, my little brother, whoever I had to, it didn't matter,” he said.
Then he was arrested for drug possession at 18-years-old.
“I was tired, I was kicked out of my house, living in my car, in Las Vegas, 110 degrees, 105 pounds and I had run out of people to help do what I was doing,” he said.
So he turned to Solutions Recovery. Five years later, he's using his survival as a lesson for others, especially the young. Metro says.