Prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl have been making headlines in the past several years for all of the wrong reasons.
Because of these drugs, the United States is in the midst of one the greatest public health crisis it has ever seen. The opioid epidemic has drastically impacted the lives of people around the country; The Sunshine State too, has been hit hard.
The Opioid Epidemic in FloridaLike other states, Florida has been struggling with the opioid epidemic for the past several years. A big part of the Florida opioid crisis is the number of people becoming addiction to prescription painkillers. In 2018, Florida providers wrote 53.7 prescriptions for opioids for every 100 persons. This was higher than the national average at 51.4 prescriptions per every 100 persons.1 These drugs are highly addictive, but many people misuse them and neglect to get prescription drug addiction treatment in Florida to help them stop. Over time, some of these people will turn to other opioids like heroin because it is a stronger and often cheaper option than prescription opioids.
The number of opioid deaths in Florida is especially alarming. In 2018, almost 68% of all the drug overdose deaths in Florida involved some kind of opioid. In total, this accounted for 3,189 deaths.1 While this number did drop slightly from 2017 to 2018, it is still alarmingly high compared to just two decades ago. In comparison, the number of opioid-related drug overdose deaths in the year 2000 was only around 600.1 The rise in the use of synthetic opioids has been especially problematic in the past few years. From 2016 to 2017, the number of deaths involving fentanyl increased by 25%.2
Combating the Opioid Crisis in FloridaWith the Florida opioid crisis impacting the lives of so many people, something needs to be done, but these numbers won’t change overnight. Because the opioid epidemic is a comprehensive problem, it requires a broad range of solutions. Officials are looking at prevention, education, harm reduction, and opioid addiction treatment in Florida to combat the opioid crisis.
One such plan is Florida’s prescription drug monitoring program that tightens restrictions on prescription opioids in an effort to reduce the number of people abusing these drugs and recognize doctor shopping early. The state also has several safe drug take-back and disposal options so that people can dispose of old opioid medications without them falling into the wrong hands.
Other programs involve education. The state recently launched a new drug campaign called “The Facts. Your Future.” This program focuses on educating the youth specifically on the dangers of drugs like opioids. Although COVID-19 halted plans, the program will include school assemblies as well as education for parents and teachers on how to talk to the youth about drugs. This year, the Florida Department of Health also announced the allocation of over 6 million dollars in grant money to help local communities in the fight against opioid abuse and overdoses.3
While some of what the state is doing is helping, there is still more that needs to be done. Miami is currently home to a trial needle exchange program meant to collect used needles, hand out sterile needles, and provide other addiction resources in the area like the distribution of free Narcan. These programs help to reduce the number of bloodborne illnesses, problems from intravenous drug use, and the number of opioid overdoses. The Miami program has been successful and this program could potentially be expanded to other parts of the states in the coming years.
Trying to drastically reduce the impact of the Florida opioid epidemic isn’t easy and real improvements are likely a long way away. For now, it is important that Floridians take advantage of the programs that are available and that those who need support get it. Our Pompano treatment center gets people the help they need to find lasting sobriety so they can move past their opioid addiction.
We do our best to do our part in combatting the Florida opioid crisis, but we cannot help unless you ask for it. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to opioids or other drugs, do not wait to find treatment.
Call us today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our programs at Banyan Treatment Centers Pompano and to get started on the road to recovery.