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.

Drug Treatment in South Florida

Exactly how many drug and alcohol addicts are receiving treatment? The White House Drug Policy in 2006 reported that in South Florida, over 47,000 people were admitted to a drug abuse treatment facility, which remarkably, was a 10,000 person increase since 2005. While an estimated 13% of these admissions were identified as treatment for alcohol and a second drug abuse, 17% of admissions were for alcohol abuse. However, Marijuana had the highest treatment rate of an estimated 28%, while cocaine followed by an estimated 24%.

Another developing drug abuse epidemic in the region is that of prescription drugs. In a recent study, medical examiners found that at least 5 people die on a daily basis due to drug overdose. Of these prescription drugs, the most prominent ones are Oxycontin and Vicodin

Within the last decade, ER’s in the state of Florida have witnessed a seismic change in the number of drug overdose cases – far from what was obtainable in say, the 1990’s Florida State’s ERs have become beehives for drug overdose cases. Night in night out, State officials battle with what seems to be a case of unending overdose calls. In Palm Beach County, for instance, nearly 5,000 overdose calls were recorded in just 2016. Statistics from other Counties are no better, a fact that is made apparent by Governor Rick Scott’s declaration of an opioid epidemic earlier in May.

Florida is not new to the drug scene if anything the state has had its fair share of the malaise that is substance abuse. The 1980’s Miami drug wars, the pill mill boom in the mid-2000s and their less than pleasing societal consequences still resonate in the background of the state’s history. And while these now fit the tag of past drug events, it goes without saying that they set a precedent for the manifestation of the current Florida drug epidemic.

Miami-Dade County 228 OVERDOSES IN 2015

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

A new wave of drugs

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.

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


Governor Rick Scott’s declaration of a state of public emergency underscores just how critical the drug situation in Florida is. However, for progress to be made in curbing this malaise, efforts have to go past declarations, and routine clampdowns by law enforcement agencies – The state of Florida has to adopt a proactive stance that looks to curtail the incidence of people getting hooked on to prescription pain medications in the first place.

Limiting supply has already been achieved to some extent, what remains is to cut down demand, and a good way to go about this would be to engage in public enlightenment campaigns that emphasize the often ignored dangers of prescription painkillers and the deleterious effects of their cousins the hard drugs.

For individuals who are already tied to the junk stuff, a combination of counseling, therapy and opioid blockers such as Naltrexone and Buprenorphine has proven to be an effective remedy. Hopefully, if and when other inhibitory measures get into full gear, the double-edged sword of mediating demand/supply and addiction recovery should usher the Florida drug epidemic into a recessionary and restorative state.

There are lots of dangers in using any type of drug or substance that isn’t intended for medical use. South Florida drug and alcohol abuse is still a growing concern, and should be checked. Treating drug and alcohol addiction in South Florida will save lives and improve the overall health of the community. Establishing an addiction treatment center is a crucial part of the solution process, so it is good to know the services offered, such as inpatient care, outpatient care, intensive outpatient care, local support groups, medical and mental health care, and recovery houses.

Therefore, when a person suffers from a severe case of drug or alcohol addiction, the best approach to treat the person is seeking professional help at an addiction treatment facility. Licensed therapists and counselors are trained to conduct effective treatment for all kinds of addictions cases, as well as mental health issues and those suffering from psychological distress.