(KMOV)-- Parents are saying they were blindsided by a heroin epidemic taking hold of suburbs around St. Louis.
The problem has grown so big that county officials have now launched a website focused on the area and how this drug is so accessible.
The local council on drug and alcohol abuse says calls to their hotline about heroin take up most of their time. Part of the reason is easy acces; right now someone could by even just a capsule of heroin and get high for three to four hours, and it costs less that a 12-pack of beer.
Marilyn Smashley found her son Taylor, 18, dead of an overdose in 2009.
"I was just living life. Everything was fine, until I found Taylor dead,” Smashley said. “I got to bed every night to that same image of seeing him in his bed. That—I can't turn that off."
A memorial section shows the names and faces of local lives lost.
"It makes the warning real. We're not just talking in philosophical terms here – ‘oh , here's this dangerous drug’ -- We're talking realistically in our own area. We are seeing a tremendous increase in overdose deaths,” Dan Duncan, from the National Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse said.
Dealers have found a market in middle class and affluent St. Louis suburbs, where teens can buy heroin for as little as 10 dollars a capsule.
“He always would stand up for somebody that was getting picked on or bullied. I guess you really don't know a whole lot until somebody dies, and all these people come to you and start telling you what a great person he was, you know, and that one drug, that one thing took his life,” Smashley said.
Heroin now comes in a powder form that can be smoked or snorted. A syringe is optional, as well. It all makes the drug seem more accessible, but no less deadly.