JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Heroin use is on the rise in northeast Florida.
"They had to bring me back to life on my 20th birthday," said Charles Rios, a recovering heroin addict. "Once you start you can't stop," said Rios.
Rios said he couldn't stop, but it didn't start with heroin.
"I used at a young age, around 12, and started smoking weed," said Rios. "It's the greatest feeling I've ever had, now I'm 27 years old, and I've only been clean 92 days."
This is Rios' second time in rehab. There are hundreds more stories just like his. Both addicts we talked with say the addiction became worse in the last few years after Florida cracked down on pill mills. "They're getting harder to find. It's easier for people just to get heroin," said a man who wants to remain anonymous, but admits battling addiction.
Captain Barry Abramowitz with the Clay County Sheriff's Office said the heroin increase is an unintended consequence of the new laws. He says heroin is now showing up in more local neighborhoods.
The latest report available from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission
shows heroin deaths increased 89 percent from 2011 to 2012.
The Jacksonville area has the third-highest rate in the state with 14 deaths.
"It's going to be in every body's neighborhood. That's what's so scary," said Abramowitz.
Action News asked how the drug is getting here.
"They're coming from Colombia, Mexico via Miami," said Abramowitz.
He said the drugs travel right up interstate 95.
The Drug Enforcement Administration told Action News some heroin comes through Florida ports but most of it comes in right through airports. Smugglers are hiding the drugs in their bodies.
While police know where it's coming from, stopping smuggling isn't easy.
"We're going to target people selling it and target people buying it," said Abramowitz.
Local addicts said crackdowns alone will not stop users.