BEND, Ore. - Ian Wilson's mom, Jain, cherishes his childhood memories more than ever these days.
She describes him as a good kid, with a gentle soul. But that good kid started living dangerously.
The now 21-year-old got in a car crash last year, and police found cocaine in his pocket. He damaged two discs in his lower back in the crash -- and that's when the real addiction started.
"He went and saw the doctor and got a pain medication prescription for it. Then we went back five days later to re-evaluate and tell them he's not feeling any better and to get another prescription," Wilson said.
"But the doctor said, 'No, no more.' And that is what started the whole thing into narcotics. So it became going to the street corner to get the pain pills."
Without a job and living at home, Ian's regular dose of pain killers -- it started with oxycodone -- was not enough.
"Because the pills weren't available, and heroin is cheap, almost free, it was like, 'Here, have this -- and have five times as much,'" Wilson said.
Ian was in and out of jail toward the end of last year for possession of cocaine and violating his probation.
But last winter, after spending two months behind bars for violating his probation again -- that's when his mom says he was introduced to heroin by a familiar name.
You may remember Richard Clarke, the Bend man convicted this summer of killing his roommate with a baseball bat. He was also Ian's cellmate while in jail.
"With Richard, he told Ian, 'Hey, I know how you can do this. I know how you can get by with stuff for cheaper. Here's my connections, here's my stuff, this is how you do it.' He taught him everything, from how you get the syringes, to how you mix it -- he told him all about it," Wilson said.
Once Ian was released, heroin became his go-to drug. On August 25th at 1:30 a.m. -- he took it too far.
"His brother came home around 3:00 in the afternoon and found him with his back arched over a pillow. He had vomited, his skin was blue and gray and he was taking one gasping breath every minute plus," Wilson said.
Jain was out of town visiting family when she got the call to come home.
"I got there, and he was all hooked up to the ventilator, and I opened his eyes," Wilson said. "This look he gave me seemed to say, 'What are you doing here?' So I told him. Then he seemed to say, 'Well what am I doing here?' And I told him that I didn't think he was going to pull this off," Wilson recalled.
For three weeks, Ian relied on a ventilator to breathe in the ICU. Tubes covered his face. He was mentally able to understand everything, but unable to talk, so he blinked once for yes, twice for no, and had trouble moving his arms and legs.
"I was just numb. It was terrifying," Wilson said.
Lt. Ken Mannix, who leads the the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team, says heroin is cheap and accessible, and the rise in its use here is unlike anything he's seen before.
"The level of heroin that I see today is the highest I've seen in years, if not the highest ever," Mannix said.
"The amount of heroin that the tri-county CODE Team has seized has increased 2,000 percent from 2012 to 2011. Truly astounding numbers," Mannix said.
In 2011, heroin-related deaths in Oregon jumped nearly 60 percent from 2010. The number of drug-related deaths in Deschutes County over the last year is among the highest in the state.
Mannix says this deadly drug is creating a dark shadow on our community and there may be no light at the end of the tunnel.
"I don't know if I see an end in sight," Mannix said. "It was all meth, and it still is meth -- that is our No.1 problem. But with heroin, it's just getting crazy."
Ian is now at a Portland rehab facility, to help him gain control of his muscles and limbs; he should be home in the next week. He just started talking again last week, but he faces a long and difficult road to recovery.
"I believe in angels, so I've been wrapped up in that, and that's what's seeing me through," Wilson said.
Wain considers her son one of the lucky ones, but brings his friends to the hospital to see first-hand what heroin can do.
She hopes this story will prevent a similar or even worse tragedy from happening to another mother, another son, another family.
"Nobody should have to do this," Wilson said. "No parent should have to go through this, no child should have to go through this -- nobody should die because of this."
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, you can contact the Deschutes County Mental Health Department at (541) 385-3248.