Nobody ever intends to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. Despite knowing the addictive potential, most people assume that addicts were somehow weaker or more prone to becoming addicted. This exception-to-the-rule mentality makes substance abusers overconfident, and since they’re not worried about addiction, their substance abuse escalates. Having enjoyed the intoxication they experienced the first time, they want to continue experiencing that feeling, but they find that it takes more and more alcohol or drugs in order to achieve the desired effects. Without even realizing it, these individuals have initiated their descent into addiction.
Unfortunately, addiction has ravaged the entire U.S. with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention dubbing the recent spike as an addiction epidemic. In some states, addiction rates are even worse than most others. The state of Florida—widely known for being the location of an exceptionally high number of high-quality alcohol and drug rehabs—is one of the states that has been greatly affected by the addiction epidemic. As such, the following are some of the most common drug addictions in Florida.
Although The New York Times notably referred to Florida as an “oasis of sobriety”, the state also has an exceptionally bad problem concerning the number of people who suffer from addiction. In the past decades, opioids have been the class of drugs to pose the biggest problem in the temperate state, but like the rest of the country today, Florida is presently experiencing a major heroin addiction problem. Considered the most addictive substance that a person could possibly become addicted to, heroin is derived from the opium poppy and is an extremely powerful, semi-synthetic painkiller.
When a person uses heroin, the substance enters the bloodstream, travels to the brain, and binds to the brain’s opiate receptors where it prevents the individual from feeling. Overall, the heroin dulls the senses. Meanwhile, the drug causes a surge in certain neurotransmitters, particularly ones like serotonin and dopamine that are typically associated with the brain’s reward and pleasure pathways. As the person continues to use heroin over a period of time, the brain begins producing less of its own neurotransmitters and begins to rely on the heroin; however, when the individual is deprived of heroin, the brain’s neurochemical level remains abnormally low, causing feelings of depression, anxiety, and a general physiological discomfort.
In Florida, heroin addiction rates have continued to climb over the past several years, which is typically verified by assessing the number of annual heroin overdose deaths. Between 2011 and 2012, heroin overdose deaths increased an average of 89 percent throughout the state, climbing from 62 to 117; however, certain counties show an annual increase of 120 percent or more. Officials believe that Florida being one of the southernmost states in the U.S. makes it especially easy to get heroin into the state from Mexico. Moreover, statistics show that one of the demographic groups that have been affected by heroin the most are young adults aged 18 to 29, and with the drug being so powerful and highly addictive, it can begin derailing a person’s life after only a few days.
Prescription Pain Medication
The reason for today’s heroin problem has been attributed to the prescription painkiller addiction of the previous decade. After OxyContin, or oxycodone, was released in the latter half of the 1990s, doctors and physicians began prescribing the opiate liberally due to its effectiveness for treating pain. Moreover, Purdue Pharma—the pharmaceutical company that produced and distributed OxyContin—was pushing hard for health care providers to prescribe more and more OxyContin. By the early 2000s, there were a number of other opiate painkillers in addition to OxyContin on the market, and there were many people who had become addicted to painkillers and were buying them off the street.
The state of Florida had a crucial part in the nationwide painkiller epidemic since it was known for having many pain management clinics that liberally prescribed opiates and yet Florida lacked a statewide prescription management system that could monitor the controlled substances the state was prescribing. Painkiller addicts from all over the country were traveling to Florida to see several doctors over a period of a couple days before returning home with their duplicate opiate prescriptions that they could abuse and sell on the streets. Although there have been a number of policy changes and legislation that substantially decreased the amount of painkillers that were being diverted, it was due to the many painkiller addicts suddenly being unable to get their substances of choice that they all began turning to heroin, triggering the current heroin epidemic. Despite the fact rates of painkiller addiction are lower now than ever, Florida remains the 11th state in terms of the severity of painkiller abuse; moreover, the majority of drug-related deaths that occur in Florida are still caused by benzodiazepines and oxycodone.
Although marijuana is often considered one of the most common and widespread drugs, current statistics show that there aren’t quite as many people regularly smoking marijuana as there used to be. Part of the reason for this is thought to be because marijuana is becoming much more mainstream with a number of states having legalized medical marijuana and states like Colorado even legalizing recreational marijuana. In fact, there have even been recent initiatives to legalize medical marijuana in Florida although the most recent attempt in 2015 fell short of getting the 60 percent majority of voters by only 3 percent. Medical marijuana will be added to the ballots for the 2016 presidential election. There are currently 23 states and Washington, D.C., that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes; if Florida voters approve medical marijuana, Florida will be the most populated southern state to do so.
Why continue to suffer? Call the Palm Beach Institute today
Addiction is a disease that can strip a person of his or her health, relationships, career, financial security, home, and even his or her life. However, nobody should have to continue suffering from an addiction. If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation, call the Palm Beach Institute at 855-960-5456. With just one phone call, you or your loved one can take the first step toward a life of lasting happiness, health, and fulfillment.