Heroin addiction a growing problem in Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A new report shows heroin use in Florida is on the rise.

"It's become more economical for people to use heroin than the prescription drugs," said Karen Tozzi, Vice President of Development at Gateway Community Services in Jacksonville.

Tozzi said since Florida began a crackdown on pill mills, the cost to get those pills skyrocketed, while the cost of heroin went down.

"It's very concerning, very concerning," she said.

Heroin addicts who First Coast News has chosen to keep anonymous say making the decision to stop is almost impossible, since the drug is so powerful.

"The heroin is right there on the streets, it's a lot easier to get to nowadays," she said.

"The feeling that heroin gives you ... is the most amazing feeling," said another addict. "I was in love with the drug."

Gateway Community Services said almost 230 people have been admitted for help with heroin addiction in the last year and a half. Meanwhile, a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed 62 people across the state died from heroin in 2011. In 2012, that number spiked 89 percent, to 117.

"It's just a really tough drug," said Tozzi.

Addicts say making the decision to stop is difficult because the drug is so addicting. One addict said the choice came down to heroin or death.

"If you really want help, it's here, you just have to want it within yourself," she said.

Experts say if you or a loved one need help, it's important to do research. Find a center that can give an assessment on the phone or in person. If you're in need of immediate help, go to a detox center.

First for you, here is one of several facilities available for help with addiction:

Community Gateway Services

555 Stockton Street

(904) 387-4661


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