ALBEMARLE, N.C. - In the quiet moments, Darlene Hudson remembers her son Will's smile and spirit, seen in the photos that decorate her Albemarle home.
"He did get a prescription for hydrocodone along the line for some gout problems he was having and I think it just progressed from there,” Hudson said.
In 2012, Will overdosed on fentanyl, a strong prescription pain medication. He was 29.
Officials said a Charlotte doctor prescribed that fentanyl.
Here's how they say it ended up in Will's hands:
Dr. Amir Kaldas owned Southcross Family Medicine on Morehead Street in Charlotte.
Authorities said Kaldas prescribed a fentanyl patch to John Glenn.
Glenn and his wife, Leah, are accused of selling it to Dustin Jolly.
Officers said Jolly then sold the fentanyl patch to Will.
Just last month, Kaldas reached a settlement with the medical board, agreeing to a six-month retroactive suspension of his license.
The State Bureau of Investigation also investigated Kaldas and whether he inappropriately wrote prescriptions for pain meds.
The agency said they handed the case to the Stanly County district attorney. Channel 9 asked if they plan to file charges but they wouldn't comment.
Prescription drug deaths are skyrocketing across North Carolina.
Six-hundred-seventy-three people died from prescription drug poisonings in 2012 alone. Seventy percent of them on medicine that wasn't prescribed to them.
In the past decade, the Division of Public Health said prescription overdoses have doubled in many counties, including Stanly.
“It is the biggest problem that we've got is prescription drugs,” said Sheriff Rick Burris.
For the past year, Burris' deputies have been working undercover in Stanly County's biggest pill crack-down ever.
They allowed Channel 9 cameras to capture the buys, the busts and the arrests
Dozens of people faced charges in recent busts, but the crime keeps growing.
The sheriff plans to ask county commissioners for more money for the fight.
“We're by no means finished when this campaign is over. We have to turn around and start again,” Burris said.
Hudson hopes Will's story is a wake-up call, that addicts can't beat it alone.
“I would give my life if things could have been different with Will. But I just don't want to see other families go through what we've been through,” she said.
Feeding an addiction to prescription pills is very expensive.
One pain pill can cost as much as $80, depending on the strength.
The sheriff said the price of using pills is leading to more burglaries and break-ins by addicts looking for quick cash.
The cost is causing many people to try heroin as a cheaper way to get high.
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