But as each effort to curb pill abuse is mounted, another, equally disturbing trend is emerging — heroin use.
Dale Kasprzyk, resident agent in charge of the Buffalo office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said as pills become less available, addicts are turning to their illicit counterpart — a drug with a major rap for ruining lives.
"I think we're doing a really good job of attacking the prescription drug problem but as we continue to limit the availability of those pills, addicts will try to satisfy their addiction and they have now turned to heroin," he said. "The reports coming out of most cities right now is that heroin is on the rise."
In other words, not only is increased pill-form opiate addiction leading to heroin, but the phenomenon is partly a result of success in combating pill pushers.
"You absolutely are seeing, 100 percent, an uptick in heroin," said Anne Constantino, president and CEO of Horizon Health Services, an addiction treatment facility serving the Tonawandas. "And pretty much every young person who comes in addicted to heroin will tell you that they started with pills."
Kasprzyk said addicts look to heroin because they can get the same high for far less money. With the demand in place, he said, supply follows.
"There is as much heroin available in Tonawanda as there is on the East Side of Buffalo, the West Side of Buffalo or in New York City," he said. "We're producing opiate addicts with the pills but it's leading straight to heroin."
And with more opiate addicts starting with a single, innocent looking pill, more and more people are likely to turn to heroin.
Constantino said Tonawandas and other suburbanites are no an exception to addiction trends.