In 2017, 72,000 Americans died from drug-related overdoses, which was more than the number killed in the Vietnam war (58,220) or car crashes in the country (40,100). While much of the U.S. is seeing dizzying numbers of drug deaths, Florida has been hit even harder. The state saw an increase in overdoses of 47 percent from 2015 to 2016 alone. Hearing the stories about the crisis doesn’t always paint the whole picture, and seeing the statistics about the topic paint a bleak picture.
In 2013, Florida doctors provided 69.6 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, and although that number decreased by 7.3 in 2015, that number is far too high. Doctors in the state have become more aware of the epidemic that partly has been linked to the overprescribing of the medications. While it seems like a too little, too late type of situation, the cutback of prescribing is perhaps something that will be felt later on. There need to be more solutions to these problems, and fortunately, Florida is taking the right steps.
An opiate epidemic involving heroin and the nonmedical misuse of pharmaceutical opioids is increasing in Palm Beach County with rising numbers of death, primary treatment admission, and crime lab scenes according to an epidemiology report out of the county. While the total population of Palm Beach County as of 2015 was 1,339,221, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 33,767 people had used an illicit drug other than marijuana in the last 30 days from when the article was released.
From 2000 to 2010, there was an influx in the availability of pharmaceutical opioids, and this led to increased deaths that were linked to nonmedical misuse. In 2010 alone, there were 6,608 deceased individuals who tested positive for opioids.
Statistics point to 1,225 admissions to treatment for opiates in 2014 other than heroin in Palm Beach County compared to 586 in Broward County, and 231 in Miami Dade. These trends seem to steadily increase through 2016. Palm beach county also had more heroin deaths during the first half of 2016 than any other county in the state, and misuse of prescription opioids has increased since 2013. While Florida seems to be getting hit particularly hard, Palm Beach County has been especially plagued by the drug crisis.
The sheer volume alone of overdoses have overwhelmed first responders and completely changed the policies surrounding their work. Police officers have been exposed to training to identify overdose and use naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan. These strategies nationwide have netted dramatic results, and Narcan is often referred to as a miracle drug. It’s called this because of its instant reaction to someone overdosing. It immediately blocks opioid receptors and takes someone out of an overdose and saving the person’s life. It has been especially useful with the emergence of fentanyl.
Florida has taken proactive measures to decrease the numbers of people dying each day, each month, and each year. The statistics have been evaluated in depth by those in power, and they have reached a breaking point. People simply cannot continue to die from opioid prescriptions, and it is time to take back their communities. While no single measure that comes from these initiatives will curb the epidemic, the more attention it gains may help the masses create fundamentally sound solutions.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott finally had enough and declared a statewide public health emergency on the opioid crisis the state faces. This allowed for the federal government to step in and give Florida an estimated two-year $54 million grant, which began in 2017. The state will get another $27 million in 2018r to pay for treatments such as methadone and medications like naloxone (Narcan) to counteract drug overdoses.
After this was declared, another initiative called HB-21 was put into place, and it was created to limit prescriptions that doctors prescribe for acute pain. It was immediately passed and signed. It’s objective is to stop dispensing copious amounts of pills for minor procedures. It was easy to get a tooth pulled and have a dentist prescribe 30 pills for pain that may last a few days, but the signed new bill puts a three-day limit on the pills. Now a prescription may contain six pills, and after three days you would revisit the doctor/dentist. This is situational based, so people who have major trauma or a terminal illness will not be included in this measure.
This law is in effect, and doctors who do not follow these guidelines face potential punishment. The point is to help curb the damage that already has been done and help our future. The doctors with the authority to dispense narcotic medications are required to attend courses to gain clarity about the growing problem and learn the warning signs. They also must register with a statewide database that screens those who could be doctor shopping, the practice of seeing multiple health care providers to obtain multiple prescriptions.
Substance abuse treatment is an effective means of helping people address their substance abuse disorders, but a person accessing the treatments does not necessarily require all of them for success. While that may be the case, each continuum of care plays a vital role in the treatment of addiction.
The first level of care is detox, and this is highly suggested to take place in a medical setting for safety purposes.
Detox involves ridding the body of any drugs and alcohol that may be present in the body during a process monitored by medical professionals. While drug or alcohol withdrawal is imminent, following through with this process in a medical facility will reduce discomfort and mitigate any dangers. The process can be uncomfortable, but it should never be considered to do on your own outside of a medical facility. This can also be done on an outpatient basis depending on the severity of the addiction.
Treatment usually starts off at the highest and most intensive level of care. This will take place in residential or outpatient treatment. At this point, the medical plan that was discussed during the detox stage will be implemented. This will determine the type of treatment, therapies, and the recommended length of stay. Depending on the severity of the addiction, doctors could decide on outpatient treatment.
During treatment, the levels of care will decrease as the client makes progress. This all will be determined on their current needs. Initial plans can be changed as the needs of the client change. If a client is not responding to treatment in the way doctors expected, then the plan will be altered. The typical order of treatment is:
With the many levels of care, there are several different therapies with the intention of helping the client. This will educate the client about the triggers they may encounter after the end their program. They will be given support, education, guidance, and coping skills to manage this disease effectively. Some of the therapies include:
The search for the perfect treatment center should never be the hardest step toward a better life. There are specific criteria set in place to help with your decision. This decision has the potential to affect you or a loved one for a lifetime, so choosing the right facility is imperative. Treatment is not a one size fits all scenario. It is advised that a client or a client’s loved ones thoroughly research the treatment options available to achieve the most positive results.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) offers guidance on what to look for, which can be a helpful tool when evaluating your options. The criteria includes insights into these areas:
A rise in fraudulent treatment centers with ill intentions have made this very useful. To choose the best treatment for you or a loved one, be sure to check that they are properly accredited. The only way to earn this is by having certifications and licenses by strict standards of operation.
Attending a treatment center with fundamentally sound beliefs rooted in science give recovering substance users the best shot at continued sobriety. It is recommended to attend a facility with a proven track record that implements most recent addiction research.
Research has shown a link between the support of family and loved ones increasing the success of rehab. While not all offer a family-based therapy regimen, this is an area that should be sought out. Treatment should never remove what’s important in your life, and these therapies back up the notion that you’re not alone.
Treatment rooted in medication therapy can help the client resist the urges by making them more comfortable during treatment. Substances that have potentially life-threatening withdrawals like benzodiazepines must be treated with medication. Those who attempt to detox cold turkey statistically have a lower rate of success.
Not all facilities will offer long-term treatment options such as an alumni program. Addiction is a lifelong disease, and you should never feel alone after you leave from the treatment. More success stories stem from long-term maintenance than those without.
Addiction worsens over time, so the longer one waits, the health risks only grow. If you or someone you know is ready to face addiction head on and work to end a drug or alcohol dependence, let the Palm Beach Institute help you. We provide you with a team of experienced professionals, doctors, nurses, and psychiatrists, who are ready to get you on the road to recovery now.
A. (2014, June 20). Behavioral Health Treatments and Services. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment
C. (2014, October 01). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders
Training Law Enforcement to Identify Overdose and Use Naloxone. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://harmreduction.org/overdose-prevention/training-law-enforcement-to-identify-overdose-and-use-naloxone/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, August 09). Overdose Death Rates. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates