Local News


The effects of heroin on families in Las Vegas

Posted at 11:00 PM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-12 16:58:41-05
Destruction. Incarceration. Death. And immeasurable human suffering in between. 
ABC World News Tonight Anchor David Muir's 20/20 special Breaking Point: Heroin in America was seen by millions of Americans Friday night. Muir reported how heroin has created a new vision of hell for communities across the country. 
Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears looks at how heroin is hitting our community.
The addicted are suffering and dying. Some steal and commit violent crimes to feed their habits. And often, their families pay a heavy toll in pain and loss. When it comes to today's drug epidemic, it seems no one escapes unharmed. 
"I knew something was really wrong," Joe Engle said. "When I went upstairs, I saw him laid out on the bed. He was gray ... he wasn't breathing."
In July  2011, Joe Engle lost his oldest son, Reese, to a heroin overdose. Reese was only 19 and had been a Southeast Career Technical Academy student who was raised in Henderson.  
"A father's not supposed to bury his son," Joe said. 
After Reese was gone, "the next weeks, months, year were a blur," says Joe. 
Nicole Scaglione is 25, the same age Reese would be now.
"I overdosed. I overdosed twice in the same week," she says.
Nicole got clean, but just a few years ago when she was pregnant, "that's when I was introduced to pain medication."
Oxycodone. Percocet. Soma. Pain pills already popular at the time with her friends. 
"They were taking it from their parents," she says
The grip of Nicole's addiction was swift and severe. She wandered the streets, and was taken to jail many times.
"Then I came across heroin and that was it. It just plummeted straight down to my bottom."
In the last couple of years many addicts made the jump from pain pills to heroin. 
"The pain medication that I was on was really -- it was really expensive and really hard to get," Nicole explains. 
And the pain pills once so easy to find were no longer there.  
In 2013, pharmacies started running scared -- afraid to fill pain prescriptions after the Drug Enforcement Administration nailed major chains with multi-million dollar fines.  On one hand, abusers couldn't get pills like they used to, but the move also led to painful, unintended consequences for hundreds of patients caught in the middle of the war on drugs.  
People like Carl Chamberlain, whose wife, Rose, died from cancer.
"She would scream in pain sometimes at night," said Carl. 
Oxycodone was prescribed, but Carl says several pharmacies refused refills. 
"Another casualty of the drug war," says Joe.  "We've failed them miserably in this war on drugs."  
So with pain pills harder for everyone to get, drug dealers are moving more and more heroin in the suburbs.
"Pizza delivery-style drug dealing," says Joe. 
Fueling a vicious cycle of addiction and despair.
"The prescription deaths are going down and the heroin deaths are going up."
Joe started a support group called There Is No Hero In Heroin in memory of his son. 
He says instead of treating this as a crime problem we need to look at drug addiction as "the most under-funded health care crisis of our time."