FRONT ROYAL, Va. (WHSV) -- Heroin use is on the rise in the Northern Valley and law enforcement said it's just a matter of time until it spreads south.
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force said heroin use is not only a health problem, but also a matter of safety.
Kathleen Crettier keeps pictures of her son in her office, "His smile, his beautiful smile. He could talk to anybody about anything and he was always interested."
His smile faded in 2012, after he overdosed on heroin.
"Looking back there were some signs. I am a nurse and I missed it," said Crettier.
Virginia State Police Special Agent Jay Perry tracks heroin in the Northern Valley and said in 2013, 21 people died and 100 people were injured from heroin overdoses.
"Oxycotyn can be as high as a $1 per milligram, which would be $80 a pill for an oxycotyn 80. People have found the same high from heroin and it's much cheaper," said Perry.
The increase in use could also lead to more crime
"They will go through pretty much any means to obtain more heroin, which causes an increase in property crimes, in breaking and enterings," said Perry.
It also puts a strain on local hospitals like Warren Memorial.
"It creates a backlog of our rooms, sometimes we have to be a little creative, putting people in rooms and juggling them along. We always treat everybody according to their needs," said Callie Dove, a nurse at Warren County Memorial Hospital.
Dove said last year, nearly 29 people came in after overdosing and three people died. The overdoses were most likely due to heroin.
For some families it means losing a loved one.
"We are grandparents that are parenting his child," said Crettier.
© Copyright 2014 WHSV / Gray Television Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.