CULPEPER, Va. - The Culpeper County Sheriff's Office said 15 people have overdosed on heroin since the beginning of April, which are as many overdoses as the county saw for all of last year.
"I would describe it right now as a plague," said Culpeper Lt. Tim Murphy.
While no one has died, Murphy said his office believes it is only a matter of time.
The sheriff's office put out a Facebook post last week alerting the public there may be an especially dangerous batch of heroin being sold, possibly cut with fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that can be up to a hundred times stronger than morphine.
"I can't stress enough on family members and loved ones – you have to step in," said Murphy. "This is a drug that doesn't give a second chance sometimes."
It is something Culpeper County resident Moira Satre knows too well. Her 31-year-old son, Bobby, died from an overdose a year ago this week.
"I didn't realize the grip," Satre said. "He was very honest and open about his addiction with us. He said, 'Mom, it invades my dreams. I think about it every day. It's a daily struggle and I hate this.' And he would be in tears."
Satre said her son had been clean, was happy at work and about to propose to his girlfriend when he relapsed. He was alone in his condo at the time.
"It's hard to believe how many young people are losing their fight with heroin," Satre said.
While all 15 of those who have overdosed this month in Culpeper County have been adults, a new study on drug and alcohol use in neighboring Fauquier County shows 79 students in the public school system self-reported using heroin. While most were seniors, some were in seventh grade.
Satre retired from her nursing career after her son died so she could fully devote her time to helping people at risk for substance abuse. She is compiling a website with treatment options in the area and has started a support group for others in her shoes.
"We really want to get into the schools," she said. "I think there's a lack of education about how bad this drug is."
Satre is about to launch a website for her "Come As You Are Coalition."
The group Healthy Culpeper will hold a meeting next week to address the heroin epidemic.