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Addiction Statistics In South Florida

Statistics On Drug Overdose Deaths

Among the many devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic is the shocking rise in reported deaths due to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. With factors like economic depression and widespread job loss, the disease’s high death rate and the consequent collective grief, and the loneliness of the social distancing measures mandated by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to protect our health, it’s no surprise that rates of substance abuse and drug overdose both increased significantly.

Compounding the problem was the fact that fewer people sought treatment for their substance abuse, fearing contagion from the coronavirus. This allowed many people’s drug and alcohol use to spiral further out of control, too often to the point of fatality.

According to the National Center For Health Statistics, current trends reveal that the rate of people dying from drug overdose was higher between April of 2020 and April of 2021 than it was in any year before. And though CDC data shows that drug overdose deaths are on the rise across the country, Florida has unfortunately borne more than its fair share of the burden, with deaths in the state increasing thirty seven percent as opposed to thirty percent in the country overall.

In fact, Florida overdose deaths are not only above the national average, but only California is ahead of Florida in overdose deaths, making it second in the nation. Plus, the statistics for some individual Florida counties are even steeper.

In Pinellas County, overdose deaths went up by thirty five percent in 2020, with fentanyl deaths accounting for an estimated fifty two percent of the rise. Closer to home, Broward County in fact has the highest rates of deaths caused by fentanyl in the entire state, and Palm Beach county overdose deaths went up twenty three percent this year compared to last year.

And though opioid abuse poses the greatest danger, abuse of other drugs is no small problem for the USA in general or Florida in particular either. Even abuse of alcohol, which is often considered a relatively innocuous substance next to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, has escalated so significantly that alcohol related deaths appear to have risen a whopping twenty five percent during 2020 as opposed to 2019.

And, again, Florida seems to have borne the brunt of it, with statistics suggesting that alcohol deaths increased by forty percent in Florida during the same period. Abuse of and overdose deaths from stimulant drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine increased significantly over the course of the pandemic as well, with cocaine deaths rising 21 percent nationwide in 2020 and methamphetamine deaths rising 46 percent.

A substantial part of this huge spike seems to be due to the proliferation of fentanyl into the US and Florida drug supply. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid that is thought to have been involved in sixty four percent of the drug overdoses recorded in the last year.

In recent years, those who sell drugs like cocaine have taken to lacing them with the far more dangerous fentanyl, leading to a heartbreaking amount of deaths among people who had no idea that fentanyl was indeed what they were getting.

A recent report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggested that the amount of fentanyl pills seized by law enforcement has increased fifty fold between 2018 and 2021. And the recent widely reported incident involving the overdoses of several West Point students who had taken fentanyl laced cocaine serves as a perfect example of the harms that the drug can cause.

Now, the situation has become so bad that even people who buy what they think is a legitimate prescription drug like Xanax on the street may instead be getting fentanyl pressed to look like the more familiar drug.

But understanding what makes Florida more vulnerable to synthetic opioids like fentanyl involves understanding the unique role that Florida played in the opioid epidemic and the state’s unique history.

Understanding The Opioid Epidemic In South Florida

Understanding how and why the opioid crisis took hold in Florida starts with understanding how the prescription drug oxycontin proliferated there. While part of the blame can be placed on Purdue Pharma, the corrupt pharmaceutical company that aggressively marketed the drug while downplaying the associated risk of addiction, corrupt Florida pain treatment centers also played a devastating role by recklessly distributing the drug.

Because Florida had less stringent regulations than other states when it came to prescribing controlled substances, it became the national capital for “pill mills,” sham treatment centers where unscrupulous doctors passed out opioid prescriptions like candy to almost anyone who arrived in search of them.

In 2011, in response to the rampant drug use, Florida passed the Pill Mill Law and implemented a prescription drug monitoring system to attempt to curtail this significant problem. But the effects of this period are still apparent in the increased rates of opioid drug use and overdose in the state.

After prescription opioid drugs became less available, many Florida addicts turned from prescription opioids to illegal opioids like heroin, which can be even more detrimental to physical and mental health.

Statistics as shocking as these underlie the need for increased resources for harm reduction across Florida, which focus on the prevention of drug-related mortality and morbidity even in people who are not ready to stop using drugs all together.

But of course, the best measure for prevention of overdose death is the prevention of addiction itself. With the proper treatment and enough hard work, lifelong recovery from a substance use disorder is possible, and Florida legislature needs to do more to help its citizens to curb substance use and achieve that recovery.

Treatment For Drug Abuse At Reco Intensive

If you or someone you love is currently struggling with substance abuse and is ready to seek help, you can use this treatment locator from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to search for rehab programs near you.

And, if you are seeking addiction treatment in South Florida, you may want to consider Reco Intensive, a quality addiction recovery center in Delray Beach, Florida that offers comprehensive mental health care to those looking to kick start their recovery.

To learn more, feel free to call us anytime at 844.955.3042 or to contact us online anytime here. There’s no time like the present to get back on the road to a better life, a full recovery, and a brighter future.

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