Addiction in South Florida
One of the biggest health concerns in South Florida is the growing number of drug and alcohol related problems. Over the past few years, the number of cases of addiction has steadily increased, and it is very important that treatment is provided for those suffering from addiction in order to help resolve these pressing issues in the region.
However, there is evidence showing that drug and alcohol abuse in South Florida demands attention. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health stated that 437,000 Florida citizens reported illicit drug dependence (or abuse) from 2005 till date, which is 3.9% of total Florida residents. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Health And Human Services reported that a high percent of teenagers and older used illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, hallucinogens, inhalants, and non-medical use of prescription drugs etc.
Also, Alcohol abuse is a rising cause for concern in South Florida. More than 22 % of youth participated in binge drinking at least once in that month (measured by 5 or more drinks at a specific time). Astonishingly, 10% of teens in South Florida, from age 12 to 17, are currently binge drinkers. The Office of National Drug Control Policy indicated that most adults were arrested on drug charges in 2007, while 58,000 adults were arrested for DUI that same year.
The Drug Epidemic in Florida
The Florida drug epidemic is unique case scenario that cuts across all gender, race, and socioeconomic divide. Quite unlike most other drug endemics, its foundation lies in an age long medical practice – prescription painkillers. The turn of the 21st century saw a marked increase in the availability and subsequent usage of these drugs as a relief from chronic pain, a condition affecting approx. 100 million Americans – their palliative rather than curative nature, however, assured their continuous use. Continuous use eventually transformed to additive use, and in no time, a thriving market fostered by unscrupulous medical practitioners and their clinics emerged to cater for growing demand for painkillers.
2011 pill mill clamp down sought to put an end to the indiscriminate use of these drugs, however like many other anti-drug campaigns; it focused on the more on eradicating the supply than curbing the demand. The following scarcity of prescription painkillers and their now heightened price point meant that Florida natives had to source for cheaper and more readily available alternatives to satisfy their drug cravings – effectively kick-starting the current Florida drug epidemic.
The Florida Opioid Epidemic
Over the past decade, opioid use and abuse have been rising across the country. Florida has been one of the states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic, with overdose rates more than doubling from 2014 to 2016.
It’s not just Heroin and cocaine taking the headlines anymore, synthetic and more potent derivative drugs have since infiltrated the Florida cynosure; with their increased potency also comes an increase in overdose cases and mortality. Two analogues of Heroin, Fentanyl, and Carfentanil, have been the major contenders for best new act; in combination, they were responsible for about 754 deaths in 2016 according to medical examiner records.
While Heroin and cocaine still account for a significant number of drug addiction cases, with the former causing the death of some 216 palm county residents in 2016, the more recent drug entries in the Florida drug epidemic are proving to be just as lethal. Drugs like Flakka notorious for its insane highs and paranoia take the definition of cheap yet potent to a new level; at $5 per dose the Chinese synthetic crystal proves that big things do come in little packages. Additionaly, fentanyl abuse and overdose has spiked.
Aside from the sky-rocketing number of drug-related deaths, the Florida drug epidemic has its toll of adverse economic impacts; between 2010 and 2015, the cumulative charge for treating Heroin-related cases was a whopping $5.7 billion. An additional $967 million in cost was charged for attending to babies addicted to Heroin – one of the more bizarre manifestations of the Florida drug situation.