ORANGE COUNTY ( — The apparent overdose death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has one Orange County mother concerned, saying it shows just how easily prescription pill addiction can turn into heroin dependency.

Natalie Costa has spent years sounding the alarm about opiate addiction to fellow parents and families.

“They’re so shocked that it’s a celebrity that has died of a heroin overdose when we lose people every day even in Orange County to the same exact thing,” Costa said. “The face of heroin is our children.”

The mother says the number of fatal overdoses in Orange County is staggering. She said dozens of OC teens are dying from prescription pill and heroin overdoses each year.

“Everyone thinks Orange County is the place to live, it’s the perfect world – but that’s on the outside,” Costa said. “The Coroner’s statistics state that we lose one person a day in Orange County to a prescription drug overdose.”

Deaths from heroin overdose have been hard to track, but the OC Coroner reports 49 deaths from heroin in 2012.

Costa warns prescription pills are just a synthetic form of the street drug heroin.

“The prescription drug usage transcends to heroin use because it produces the same high for a fraction of the cost. Where an Oxycontin, an 80-milligram pill is $80, a balloon of heroin is $10,” the mother said.

Countless parents have written to Costa asking how so many children, raised in such an affluent area, could turn to prescription drugs.

“Why are kids coming from good families, going to good schools, playing good sports, good churches, tree-lined streets, gated communities, blue ribbon schools — why are they taking prescription drugs?” Costa said.

The film producer warns parents to wake up. She said they should look for signs of drug abuse as early as middle school.

“If it was a disease, you’d run them to the doctor and get them a vaccination. For this epidemic the vaccine is knowledge and education for the parents,” she said.


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