Substance Abuse Trends and Statistics in Florida

September 29, 2019 , Agape Treatment Center

alcohol and drug use south FloridaFlorida is a hub for the addiction recovery community, specifically South Florida. However, the number of Florida residents that struggle with substance abuse disorder is continuously on the rise. Millions of Floridians are dependent on alcohol, opioids, heroin, methamphetamines, or cocaine. Since the 1980s, Florida has maintained its long-standing reputation as one of the major centers of the drug trade. 

 

Alcohol

Like residents nationwide, many Floridians struggle with alcoholism. Florida is known for binge-drinking spring breakers, beautiful weather accompanied by day drinking, and lavish nightclub party scenes. In addition, almost every major beach is an unforgettable spring break destination. 

 

Overindulgence of alcohol, loud music, and risky behaviors are the hallmarks of spring break. Similarly, TV shows and media portray the huge masses of college students funneling beer and indulging in their favorite liquors. Often times, large distributing companies sponsor these events. Underage drinking is not uncommon. As a result, some of the spring break visitors fall victim to alcohol poisoning, which can be life-threatening. 

 

According to a report by the Florida Department of Children and Families, 24,000 Floridians sought out alcohol abuse treatment from 2015-2016. Florida has rightfully earned its alcohol-ridden reputation considering around 58% of Florida residents are drinkers. Sadly, binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning and even death. 

 

The CDC reports that fatalities from alcohol poisoning are more common in Florida than almost anywhere else in the US. Approximately 103 Floridians died from overconsumption during the years 2010-2012. The reports showed that there were only nine other states that reported having more frequent alcohol poisoning deaths. 

 

Opioids

In early 2010, Florida was home to local pill mills. These were the one-stop-shop for any and all prescription painkillers. Thousands of Floridians became addicted to opioids during the influx of prescription painkillers and the pop-up pill mills covering Florida. 

 

Synthetic opioids were available through legal means and propelled the epidemic throughout the entire state. The most unlikely individuals found themselves addicted and trapped in a vicious cycle abusing opioids. The epidemic became irrefutable in 2010 when the Department of Children and Families reported that 7 Floridians were dying every day from opioid poisoning. 

 

The state of Florida made the attempt to control the number of prescription opioids a patient could receive by creating a database tracking every narcotic prescription. Florida’s effort had a major impact by closing down pill mills and forcing doctors to be more reluctant to prescribe opiates. 

Heroin

Unfortunately, the opioid dependency had already taken over many Florida residents. As the prescriptions became fewer and more Floridians were already trapped in the cycle of addiction, heroin became the supplement for the rise in demand for opioids. Heroin mimics the desired effect produced by opioids. Naturally, individuals sought out heroin to curb withdrawals and supplement the lack of prescription opioid availability.

 

Heroin is much cheaper and has become widely available throughout Florida. Studies show that heroin deaths went up 900 percent from 2011 to 2014. South Florida was hit the hardest during this epidemic. Miami, one of the state’s leaders in heroin abuse, has witnessed heroin overdose-related deaths go up by an average of 245% over the same time frame.

 

Death is not the only outcome of heroin abuse. Many users find themselves injecting the drug, increasing the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. Unfortunately, Florida is one of the states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. 

 

Cocaine

Florida is known for having major connections with the cocaine trade in the United States. After all, the state’s geographical advantage places Florida closest to South America’s cocaine production. Florida became the target for Columbian cartels in the 1980s. Miami became a major cocaine trading post and the most violent city in the country during this time. The influx of money and cocaine was so great that it literally could not be counted, much less tracked.

 

As law enforcement began to clean house and activate major sweeps, the influx of cocaine began to decline in the late 1980s. Mexican cartels and organizations began to take charge. Consequently, they have utilized their ex-military resources to shift cocaine trafficking to the U.S.-Mexico border. This shift in power has resulted in Florida receiving approximately 15% of the cocaine that enters the United States. 

 

Substance Abuse Treatment in South Florida

Florida’s substance abuse crisis is prolific, specifically in South Florida. Since opioid overdose is so widespread, many people rely on life-saving medications like Naloxone. South Florida paramedics, police officers, and other first responders carry Naloxone in hopes of reversing overdose and preserving as many lives as possible. Naloxone is also available over the counter in many pharmacies across South Florida. 

 

As the opioid epidemic plagues the nation, South Florida has gained the attention of public health workers and law enforcement. There are numerous treatment options and resources for individuals struggling with substance abuse. Joining forces and combining treatment plans, public health officials and addiction professionals unite to help individuals struggling with addiction. Through support and encouragement of peers, professionals, and family members, individuals with the most severe substance abuse disorders can begin their journey to recovery in one of the best rehabs in South Florida.