Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Florida:
Statistics and Trends
The entire country is facing a drug epidemic, and Florida has been hit especially hard. The abuse of controlled prescription drugs has become particularly concerning, and is the leading cause of drug-related overdose deaths in south Florida. Meanwhile, alcohol and drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana continue to pose a serious health threat. In short, it is deadlier than ever to struggle with addiction.
Substance-Abuse Deaths Increasing in Florida
With Miami being one of the major ports into the U.S., it’s not surprising that south Florida has been identified as a high-intensity drug trafficking area (HIDTA) by the DEA. A 2015 report (the most recent data available) by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission found that overall drug-related deaths shot up by 13.9 percent compared to 2014.
While all drugs continue to be a problem, the biggest increases involve prescription medications, which often lead to other types of drug use that are extremely deadly: heroin and fentanyl.
When comparing the increases in drug-related deaths in Florida from 2013 to 2015, the substances with the biggest increases were:
- Fentanyl – 281% increase
- Heroin – 179% increase
- Cocaine – 59% increase
- Morphine – 58% increase
- Ethyl alcohol – 32% increase
Prescription Opioids and Benzodiazepines:
The Gateway Drugs to Heroin
As in many other parts of the country, addiction to prescription medications often lead Floridians to turn to heroin when they’re unable to secure enough of their prescription medication to feed their addiction.
Individuals who died with at least one prescription drug in their system that was identified as the cause of death increased by 22.7 percent over the previous year. Benzodiazepines were the leading cause of drug-related deaths, followed by cocaine and morphine. Alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium) and nordiazepam dominate the category of benzodiazepines.
Deaths in Florida caused by heroin increased by nearly 80 percent when compared to 2014. Heroin is extremely dangerous on its own, yet to meet demand, drug dealers often cut heroin with fentanyl, an strong opioid that is even more likely to lead to overdose. In 2015 alone, 911 deaths in Florida were caused by fentanyl, either alone or in combination with another drug.
Alcohol Abuse in Florida
On a more encouraging note, statistics from 2014 show that binge drinking by people of ages 12 to 20 was lower than the national average: 13.1 percent, compared to 14.7 percent nationally. The percentage of alcohol dependence or abuse by individuals aged 12 and up in Florida (6.1 percent) was similar to the national average of 6.7 percent. But for those afflicted by alcohol addiction, even relatively modest numbers are too high when the person affected is oneself or a loved one.
Fighting the Tide
Although the statistics on substance abuse in Florida are troubling, the holistic and comprehensive programs offered by The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches provide hope for a promising future in the lives of our patients and their loved ones.
With Florida being the entry point for such a high volume of illegal drugs into the country, the treatment facilities in the state have had to adapt quickly to the high demand for drug and alcohol rehab programs. The Treatment Center has been at the cutting edge of this industry, developing innovative programs and therapies to bring healing to those affected by addiction.
The Treatment Center believes in keeping our treatment services as accessible as possible to everyone who needs them, which is why we accept most insurance plans and provide individualized treatment plans that meet the particular needs of clients from diverse circumstances. We restore the hope that, despite the statistics, triumphing over addiction is possible.