"Kids you wouldn't expect are getting taken over by it," Chris Lazarus said. Her 18-year-old son was one of them.
"It gets good kids," Lazarus said. "It gets bad kids. It gets kids with money and kids without money."
9NEWS heard from hundreds of parents after reporting the arrest of a group accused of supplying heroin to young people in the Denver Area, including students at Arvada and Lakewood High Schools.
Jefferson County's drug task force arrested four people. Investigators there say heroin is becoming a drug of choice for young people.
Matt Lazarus was a high school senior when he died in January. He had attended Douglas County High School, but had just enrolled in an alternative school in the district a few days before he died.
"Matt loved music and his little brother and had been a joyful kid," Lazarus said. "What we learned in Douglas County is kids can get it anywhere."
Lazarus has talked to students all over the metro area about it.
She asks students how long it would take them to get heroin and many said it would take 15 or 30 minutes.
"The heroin problem is everywhere," Lazarus said, as she shook her head. "It's in our schools. It's all over."
She didn't realize that fact until Matt's best friend confided in her that her son was struggling. Matt would later cry and ask his mom for help with a problem that started one night at a party with friends.
"He told me, 'I just wanted? to see what it's like. Just once,'" Lazarus said.
Three months later, Matt was dead. His mom found him collapsed at his desk in his room.
"That haunts me," Lazarus said. "I walked in and he was cold and he wasn't breathing."
Matt had agreed to go to rehab. They were waiting on a space for him at a rehab center.
Drug investigators say heroin is particularly dangerous because it is highly potent, addictive, inexpensive and easy to get. Dealers often try to befriend kids in the community who are well liked. They give them drugs to get them hooked and rely on them to spread the word.
Tony Kappas, principal at Douglas County High School says schools and parents have to talk to kids about heroin.
""Let's identify the big elephant in the room," Kappas said. "Let's talk about it so we can keep our kids safe."
Kappas said the school has put together a team of counselors, students, and members of law enforcement to work as a substance abuse coalition.
"We have a huge concern over heroin because of the effects and the high stakes," he said.
"We are training the teachers to look for the signs because with heroin it's a much more difficult drug to identify than pot or alcohol," Kappas said.
Lazarus has found that isn't always easy. There are parents who refuse to think their kids are vulnerable.
Schools have limited time and money.
In the Jefferson County school district, there used to be grant money for drug awareness and education programs, but according to a spokesperson that money went away three years ago. It is now up to individual schools to determine what programs they'll use and how to implement them. The spokesperson said it has always remained a priority.
Lazarus takes Matt's pictures and his story into any school that will open its doors.
"We have [been] pounding the pavement for those opportunities," Lazarus said.
She does it for free and is raising money so she and others can make a greater impact. She says kids have to know how addictive and potentially deadly heroin is.
"Nothing will get better until people listen and acknowledge that it is here and it's bad and people start demanding things change," Lazarus said.
Warning Signs Include:
Grades dropping quickly
Selling personal items or stealing money
Lack of interest in life
Irritability and major mood changes
Lazarus has started an organization called EPIC (Every Person Initiates Change). It raises money for drug education programs.
There is 5K run/walk on Saturday, October 27. It's at New Hope Presbyterian Church at 3737 New Hope Way in Castle Rock.
Find more information go to the EPIC for Drug Awareness Facebook page.
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