AMHERST, N.Y. - Funeral director Constance Perna personally saw nine funerals for people who died of a heroin overdose last year. She knows there are others in her profession who are seeing the same thing.
She started seeing an uptick in funerals for drug overdose victims about four years ago, and the numbers haven't gotten any better.
Previously, Perna spent more than 20 years in the addiction field, first as a detox nurse then as a counselor who worked with families dealing with addiction.
Back then her job was to help end the cycle of abuse. Today, she sees families and addicts once it's too late.
She believes the heroin of today is more powerful and more addictive than decades ago.
"Certainly overdoses took place. Heroin has always been dangerous. It certainly wasn't cut with what we are seeing now. The heroin of today is clearly very different," said Perna.
Heroin is often cut with Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. Sometimes it's even laced with cyanide or arsenic.
"What we're hearing from families is that they're finding their loved one dead with a needle still in their arm. That's how quick it is happening. That's frightening," said Perna.