Heroin use continues to rise after crack down on pills

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SARASOTA-- The state of Florida is succeeding in it's war on pain clinics and prescription drug abuse, but with that comes a price.

Abusers are now turning toward other drugs, especially heroin.

At 25-years old, John is trying to rebuild his life. His drug addiction landed him at the First Step Rehab Center in Sarasota.

"I originally had started doing pills. When prescriptions became available, they had hit the street. All the kids loved them. I tried them and fell in love with them," said John, who did not want to disclose his last name.

Then came the state-wide crack down. It became harder and harder for John to find and buy pills. The few made available by the drug dealer on the corner sold for astronomical prices. So, John had to find an alternative.

"That's when heroin became a big thing," said John.

Injecting it, smoking it, you name it. Heroin is the new drug of choice in Florida.

"That's what everyone is doing right now," said John.

It's true says Paul Sutton.

"We have seen some heroin deaths and heroin addiction. It just shows it's a complex problem, that just changing one thing doesn't solve the problem," Sutton said.

"Sutton knows the streets better than most. He's a former Chief Deputy with the Sarasota Police Department, who now heads up the Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse.

"If people are substituting heroin and formerly used prescription drugs illegally, they have not made a safe choice. Its dangerous, illegal and deaths are still occurring. Sobriety is the only long term solution," said Sutton.

Back at first step, John has finally come to that realization, and plans to stick it out no matter how difficult it may be.