During the peak of the opioid epidemic, Florida was decimated when it came to opioid-related deaths. In 2016, at the height of the problem, there were a documented 2,798 opioid-related overdose deaths. This translated to a rate of 14.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
During the past several years, Florida has seen a dramatic spike in the number of deaths relating to synthetic opioids. In 2016, there were a staggering 1,566 synthetic opioid-related deaths in comparison to a mere 200 in 2013. While one is too many, the steady increase in these trends is something that is noteworthy.
It started in 2013 when Florida health providers had written a dizzying 69.9 opioid prescriptions for everyone 100 people. This statistic translates to 13.6 million prescriptions. While prescription distribution for opioids has been trending downward, this does not take into consideration the damage that has already been done.
The main issue is that once people are hooked, they aren’t going to stop because they cannot obtain their prescriptions. Once individuals have to turn to the street for prescription painkillers, the price is so high that they are driven to more cost-efficient drugs such as heroin or even fentanyl. If they are not ready to seek treatment, they are going to continue fueling their drug addiction by any means necessary. Florida, however, has been experimenting with new regulations to help cap this problem so that no more serious problems arise in the future.
Broward County has seen a spike in drug overdoses, and it has seen these numbers increase in an ugly fashion. The numbers show that upward of 10 people a week are dying from opioid overdoses. Due to the popularity of fentanyl among drug dealers, there has been a significant jump in overdoses. When someone assumes they are purchasing Norcos or a bag of heroin on the street, they could, in fact, be buying a deadly cocktail of the drug they sought out that’s been mixed with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a highly potent drug that has caused overdoses just from being touched.
The volume of overdoses alone has overwhelmed first responders who deal with this reality on a daily basis. Police officers, firefighters, hospitals, and even morgues have become exposed to this war, and those on the front lines have had enough. Production of the drug Naloxone, which is better known as Narcan, has been distributed to police officers and firefighters. Because of the rise in overdoses, police officers were forced into taking life-saving courses that teach them how to identify a drug overdose and the proper method for administering Narcan.
By implementing these policies nationwide, police officers alone have been able to save lives. Since law enforcement officers are usually the first on the scene, having Narcan in their arsenal has been invaluable.
Narcan works by completely blocking opioid receptors after being administered. When someone is experiencing an overdose, their brain is completely flooded by opioids, and the drug blocks the opioids immediately, reviving the individual and sucking them out of the overdose. It works almost instantly, and it really is the difference between someone living or dying. This has been dubbed the miracle drug among many.
Florida has been one of the more aggressive states in the nation when it comes to formulating solutions to these issues. The above statistics paint an apparent grim picture about what Florida has gone through, but the intentions are to make the state more efficient when it comes to prescribing opioids. There is no cure-all when it comes to addiction, but there are a variety of small ideas that can come together and put a cap on the drug problem.
Florida and law enforcement officers have put an extreme strategy into motion, and that plan is to charge drug dealers in deaths resulting from overdose. They are not asking to just charge them with murder but to push forward with the death penalty. It may seem like an extreme measure, but drug dealers are distributing poison to your neighbors, friends, and possibly your family members. Those who have not been directly affected by this epidemic may find this as an extreme solution, but those who have lost a loved one to this fight feel differently.
There was another less extreme measure implemented by Florida Gov. Rick Scott that caps the amount of medication you get from an opioid prescription. This bill was brought into the house as a means to nip this problem in the bud. By reducing the number of pills someone gets as a prescription, they, in turn, will not become hooked.
This bill is called HB-21, and it was passed unanimously to start limiting what doctors can prescribe for acute pain. It works by putting three to seven-day limits on medications such as OxyContin or Percocet. If an individual is prescribed these medications for varying ailments, it means they must return to the doctor in three to seven days to report their pain levels.
The doctors have gone through a rigorous new training course to identify the signs exhibited by those becoming dependent on pain medication. The only exception to this rule is individuals that suffered a major trauma or are terminally ill.
To sum this up, implementing such laws and regulations will not entirely rid society of this problem. Instead, it aims to reduce the problem significantly so that the future has a chance of improving from where we are today.
There are several different formats when it comes to treatment for a substance use disorder, and you will begin treatment in the most intensive care required during the first phase. A person who may be seeking treatment may not require each level of the treatment spectrum, but it has been noted that the longer someone remains in treatment, the higher their chances are of achieving success.
The beginning stages of treatment will have the client entering medical detox. This part of the journey is made up of 24-hour, around-the-clock supervision. Depending on the drug in question and the severity of the addiction, the individual may require three to seven days in detox. This is widely considered to be one of the more difficult phases of the process due to the withdrawal symptoms the person will experience, but because they’ve entered into a medical detox, the staff will formulate a comfortable solution. The risk associated with withdrawal will be mitigated by medication the staff has onsight.
When completing detox, the client will have created a plan of action with their medical staff. The plan will include the care expected of them moving forward, and the types of therapies they will require to achieve their goals. Moving forward, the level of care will gradually decrease as the client’s needs will require less and less help. These outcomes will all be determined based on the client’s need at the time. The process will be continually monitored to ensure they are responding to treatment as anticipated. The order of operations for treatment goes as follows:
These different kinds of care would warrant similar therapies. In the past, outpatient therapy was a less effective tool than actually living on-site, but today, outpatient treatment boasts great results as you’d expect from residential treatment. There are several types of therapies that you may encounter during your stint in treatment such as:
There are specific criteria to seek out when searching for the ideal substance abuse treatment program. This part of the process should be the easiest part. This is a major life change that is going to occur, so to ensure long-term success, you must seek out the right treatment center that has the highest standards in mind.
Substance abuse treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. When deciding where you or a loved one will go, there are very particular criteria to consider for you or your loved one. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) shares guidance on treatment center criteria that can help shape expectations for an individual and allow them to know what they should look for.
There has been a sharp rise in fraudulent institutions that don’t have your best interests at heart. Seeking an accredited institution will ensure that you’re receiving treatment in a facility that operates on the strictest industry standards and has gone through in-depth training to obtain the proper licenses and certifications.
Treatment centers that offer these types of services to treat addiction should be at the top of your list. You will find that they have a track record of proven success that is based solely on the advances in addiction research.
The intensive research that’s been done for addiction has shown a strong correlation between success and having families present. Facilities that offer family therapy will be your best chance for success.
As mentioned earlier, a medical detox facility can treat you comfortably and effectively as you work toward sobriety. There are substances like benzodiazepines that carry a very deadly reputation for withdrawal. To detox comfortably and safely, make sure the facility offers a medical detox.
It may sound obvious, but long-term support such as alumni programs will help maintain the sobriety you’ve worked so hard to earn. Addiction treatment is a lifelong process and support is a valuable tool for your sobriety.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from a substance abuse problem and is ready to take the first steps toward recovery and a better, sober tomorrow, The Palm Beach Institute can help. We offer medical detox treatment with a seamless transition into ongoing care through to our post-treatment alumni program.
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
Haden, P. (n.d.). New Strategy To Fight Opioids Epidemic: Criminal Charges For Drug Dealers In Deaths By Overdose. Retrieved from http://www.wlrn.org/post/new-strategy-fight-opioids-epidemic-criminal-charges-drug-dealers-deaths-overdose
Moshtaghian, A. (2017, May 16). Police officer overdoses after brushing fentanyl off his uniform. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2017/05/16/health/police-fentanyl-overdose-trnd/index.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, February 28). Florida Opioid Summary. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/florida-opioid-summary