(WXYZ) - With prescription pills harder to get, heroin is becoming the drug of choice for more and more younger people across Metro Detroit.
Along Gratiot Avenue on the East Side, the SMART bus is a lifeline for thousands, but for some drug users it's a pipeline - their ticket to get high.
Saturday afternoon, our cameras were rolling as we followed the bus when it made stops in cities like Roseville and Eastpointe. Then it's a short walk across 8 Mile into Detroit.
Time and time again, we watched as young people from the suburbs made the walk down the street. With a nod of the head and a pass of the hand, they get what they came for.
It was how Ryan Rudolph used to score his drugs, but for him, the Heroin Express was a one way trip.
"We tried taking his car away," said Donna Rudolph. "That's when we learned about kids taking the bus to go to Detroit to get drugs."
Ryan's addiction to heroin took over his life. In October, 2007, the 18-year-old's mother got a message from a stranger informing her Ryan was dead.
Ryan's parents are not alone in their grief. Since his death, young people continue to board the Heroin Express. It became the transportation of choice when Detroit began cracking down on people coming into the city to buy their drugs.
"They've taken to using the bus so vehicles aren't seized." said Roseville Police Chief James Berlin. "So we watch the buses and try and catch them that way."
Heroin use is on the rise. It's easy to get and it's cheap.
For more information about heroin use and how to get help:
Call the 24-hour substance abuse services at 800-467-2452.
Also, the Institute for Population Health's North End location at 8904 Woodward Ave. near Clairmount is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Families Against Narcotics: www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org
Detroit Recovery Project: www.recovery4detroit.com