If we’ve learned nothing else about the heroin epidemic in the South Bronx, it’s that there’s a seemingly endless supply of the opiate on the street, especially near the bustling intersection known officially as “The Hub” and unofficially as “The Hub of Heroin”.
That means plenty of temptation for recovering addicts like 53-year-old Enrique Santiago.
"They throw the needles on the floor and stuff like that," said Santiago. Santiago's spent the better part of the last two decades trying to stay clean. "I've been on methadone for a year."
He takes the synthetic drug once a day, six days a week to help ward off cravings for the real thing. And he admits that seventh day without any help is hard.
It was just last month PIX11’s reporting forced the de Blasio Administration to address residents’ concerns over hundreds of dirty needles found in city garbage cans, and on the street, tossed by the heroin addicts who are getting their fix in broad daylight.
"They be in the buildings, sleeping, urinating, feces and also, they just have so many needles. It's everywhere," said Bronx building porter Michael Dawson.
But in the wake of our reports, residents like building porter Michael Dawson and former heroin addict Vincent Almojera both question whether one of the city’s solutions — needle exchange programs — have only made the addiction crisis worse.
Vincent believes a neighborhood already playing host to a number of methadone clinics could use a few more without the bad rap that comes with visiting them.
"The methadone clinic is not the problem, the methadone clinic is one of the solutions," said Almojera. "The problem is handing out free needles, handing out free needles and the stigma that comes with treatment. People look down on you when you go into treatment and that's the problem."