PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) - Heroin is now the deadliest illegal drug in Oregon.
In 2012, there were 147 overdose deaths from heroin, up from 101 just 10 years before. In Washington state, overdose deaths between 2001 and 2011 increased from 117 to 200 -- a 71% increase.
But the city of Portland has only one medicated detox center for the uninsured and despite drug users getting younger, that center only admits patients over the age of 18.
Gary Cobb was 15 when he shot heroin for the first time.
"I crossed a line once I stuck that needle in my arm," Cobb told KOIN 6 News. "I felt something really pierced my soul."
He still wears the bands he used to tie off his arm as a reminder of how far he's come. He's now helping others fight a demon he knows well.
"I know that experience that people are facing. I know what that feels like. I know there is a solution. I know that people do not have to die."
On an average winter day, about 60 people are placed on a waiting list at the Hooper Detox Center because there aren't enough beds.
Heroin addictions, Cobb said, can start with your medicine cabinet. Over the last 20 years there's been an increase in the overprescription of narcotics.
A recent national study shows in the last five years the abuse of highly addictive prescription medications, like OxyContin and Vicodin, increased 33% among high school students.
"A fix of pills that is costing them $50 to $100, the same effect that could be reached with $20 of heroin," said Haven Wheelock, who coordinates a syringe exchange program at the non-profit Outside In.
Outside In exchanges about 2,600 dirty needles per day for clean ones, more than double what they saw five years ago. These staggering numbers drove the state to enact a new law aimed at preventing overdoses.
Now, anyone who has been trained can administer the legal drug Naloxone to treat an overdose.
"Our goal," Wheelock said, "is to get as much stuff out into the community so that if you're with someone and they overdose, the health consequences for that person will be less and they may not die."
A similar program in San Francisco cut the average number of overdose deaths from 120 to under 20 in a 10-year span.
Between July and October, Outside In issued 385 doses of Naloxone and received reports of 80 people revived from an overdose. Within the first week of distribution, Wheelock administered a dose to a man a block away from her office.
"It's a very intense thing to do because people go from being unconscious and blue and not breathing and looking dead to awake and breathing and confused," she said.
Teri Joy thinks that's a step forward.
One day she was on her way home from Costco when she spotted her stepson and his pregnant girlfriend begging for money to feed their heroin addiction.
"I couldn't just sit back and do nothing anymore," she told KOIN 6 News. "I've seen too many kids die. Our kids don't need to die. I know three kids that have died of heroin."
She stood on a street corner with a sign that read, "Please stop giving my kids money for heroin!!!!"
Joy spends a lot of time thinking about what could happen if her son doesn't get help soon.
"He's going to die. His family couldn't handle it," she said. "He's such a good kid. He's so bright, he's beautiful, the kid is gorgeous. He's talented and he's still there. I can see him when he's in the right state of mind.
"He's still Steven."
The school had been closed since Friday, preventing students from taking exams during finals week.
The facility’s sewage treatment system stopped working.
Her death is considered a homicide.
8 inches blanketed the city last week. Most roads remain covered with snow and ice.