Palm Beach offers numerous treatment options for those who need therapy for a substance use disorder. Substance abuse facilities can be found all around Palm Beach County.
In addition, the Palm Beach County Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous has meetings every day of the week in a variety of formats. Services are available throughout Palm Beach County. The Palm Coast area features 128 Narcotics Anonymous Meetings that cover the Belle Glade, Boynton Beach, Juno Beach, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee, North Palm Beach, Wellington and the West Palm Beach areas.
Palm Beach and South Florida have been affected by drug abuse and drug trafficking, but local government and law enforcement are working tirelessly to combat the growing epidemic. As certain drugs become more widely available, prevention effort organizers plan to focus their attention on the key substances that are most damaging to the community.
Several substances, including opioids, bath salts and synthetic marijuana, are becoming more popular among drug users in Palm Beach and the surrounding areas.
Like the rest of the United States, Palm Beach is currently in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Heroin and opioid abuse continues to climb in Palm Beach County and has led to rising numbers of overdose deaths, primary rehab treatment admissions and opioid crime lab cases.
In 2014, 31.5 percent of people admitted to addiction treatment in Palm Beach County listed heroin or opioids as their primary drug of abuse.
From 2013 to 2014, the number of South Florida crime reports involving prescription opioids rose 87 percent, and reports involving heroin rose 44 percent.
Despite growing concerns about opioids, the proportion of heroin consequences among all substances are lower in southeast Florida than in most other parts of the United States.
Synthetic cathinones — commonly known as bath salts — have become a substance of concern during recent years in Palm Beach County. Crime lab cases in southeast Florida involving bath salts rose 46 percent from 2013 to 2014. The 1,811 total cases in South Florida involving bath salts accounted for 54 percent of bath salt cases in Florida and 16 percent of the national total.
Synthetic cannabinoids such as K2 and spice have become more prevalent in Palm Beach in recent years. Crime lab cases involving synthetic cannabinoids rose 57 percent from 2013 to 2014.
Drugs that have been popular in the past are starting to see reduced prevalence in Palm Beach County.
South Florida crime lab reports involving cocaine decreased 12 percent from 2013 to 2014. Despite the decreased prevalence, cocaine abuse remains a major concern. After a decrease in cocaine-related deaths in Palm Beach County from 2011 to 2012, there was a major uptick in following years. From 2012 to 2014, there was a 53 percent increase in Palm Beach County cocaine-related deaths.
Cocaine was the primary drug in 5 percent of publicly funded treatment programs in Palm Beach County.
South Florida crime lab reports involving marijuana decreased 13 percent from 2013 to 2014. However, marijuana use remains a concern in Palm Beach County.
Marijuana was the primary drug in 19 percent of Palm Beach County treatment admissions in 2014. Of those admissions, 69 percent were male, 58 percent were younger than 18, and 23 percent were ages 18 to 25.
Teen drug abuse is high in Palm Beach County. Results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that the county ranked first in the nation for teen Ecstasy use, according to a 2014 WPBF News article. In 2015, 9.1 percent of Palm Beach County high school students surveyed by the CDC said they had used Ecstasy at least once in their lifetime.
Palm Beach County is among the top 10 nationwide for teen marijuana use, according to WPBF News.
Teen marijuana use is also high in Palm Beach County. In 2015, the CDC survey found 41.5 percent of teens in Palm Beach County reported that they had smoked marijuana at least once in their lifetime. The county is among the top 10 nationwide for teen marijuana use, according to WPBF News.
Pill mills are medical clinics that unlawfully distribute mass amounts of pain medications, including prescription opioids, to addicted patients trying to get high. Palm Beach County has significantly reduced prescription drug overdose deaths by passing strict laws to combat pill mills.
In February 2011, prosecutors estimated that Florida doctors prescribed 10 times more oxycodone than doctors in the rest of the nation combined. Florida had 90 of the nation’s top 100 oxycodone-purchasing doctors and 53 of the top 100 oxycodone-purchasing pharmacies. During this time, Palm Beach County was home to the nation’s biggest pill mill, American Pain.
Florida created a statewide strike force in March 2011 aimed at combating clinics operating as pill mills. The strike force provided money, intelligence and investigative assistance to local law enforcement teams on the forefront of the pill-mill battle.
By 2012, law enforcement teams took approximately half a million prescription pills off the streets and made 2,150 arrests. Following the crackdown, Florida had 13 of the top 100 oxycodone-purchasing doctors and 19 of the top 100 pharmacies. A report by the CDC announced Florida prescription drug deaths fell 23 percent from 2010 to 2012.
Getting prescription drugs off the streets remains a priority in Palm Beach County. Local law enforcement continues to make strides in shutting down the illegal distribution of narcotics. With each year that passes, the local community becomes more knowledgeable about the dangers of prescription drugs.
Palm Beach and the surrounding communities have a high number of sober living homes that provide continued care for individuals in recovery. These homes foster environments that promote sobriety and create a supportive community for recovering individuals.
A study by researchers at the Alcohol Research Group Public Health Institute and California Pacific Medical Center St. Luke’s Hospital found that individuals recovering in sober living homes showed improvement in substance use, arrests, psychiatric symptoms and employment.
Delray Beach was named “the country’s largest and most vibrant recovery community” by The New York Times in 2008 and was named one of the top 10 cities for people in recovery by The Huffington Post. The recovery-focused community features recovery radio shows, a recovery motorcycle club and a variety of sober meetup groups.
The city of Delray Beach has also passed laws cracking down on illegitimate sober living homes in the area, ensuring that individuals in recovery avoid scams from facilities providing improper care.
Once an individual is in recovery, Palm Beach can be a fantastic place to settle down permanently. Finding joy in life beyond drugs and alcohol is critical to long-lasting sobriety, and Palm Beach provides ample opportunities for that.
Palm Beach County has 45 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. They provide the perfect venue for days filled with surfing, swimming and relaxation.
In addition to the beach, Palm Beach County is home to the Indian River Lagoon. This inshore brackish water estuary offers world-class fishing, kayaking, boating and kiteboarding opportunities.
The pleasant Florida weather allows residents to participate in these activities year round. The average temperature is 74 degrees in the winter and 90 degrees in the summer.
Palm Beach County has a booming local economy with three major job industries: tourism, construction and agriculture. Palm Beach County is also home to many high-tech industries such as bioscience.
The tourism industry supports more than 60,000 jobs in businesses such as hotels, retail stores, restaurants, transportation services and tour companies. More than 6.9 million people visited Palm Beach County in 2015 and contributed $4.6 billion to the local economy.
Palm Beach County also leads the country in sugarcane and sod production. It is the No. 1 county in the state for total value of agricultural products sold and is the state’s leading producer of vegetables, melons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, other crops and hay.
Palm Beach County offers year-round recreation and entertainment options for residents and visitors alike. The county is home to 79 parks, including many with waterparks, camping grounds or athletic facilities. Palm Beach County is also known as “Florida’s Golf Capital” with 160 public and private golf courses.
For performance art lovers, Palm Beach County offers a wide variety of venues featuring concerts, theater, opera and ballet. Venues hosting these events include:
Palm Beach is also home to incredible shopping retailers and restaurants, such as the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens.
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Palm Beach County is working to combat substance abuse from three angles:
The actions and efforts made by the Palm Beach County government and community members are making a difference in the fight against addiction, building a better future for the community.
In an effort to reduce the damage low-level marijuana possession causes individuals, the Palm Beach County Commission passed a measure that allows law enforcement to issue a $100 citation for possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana, about three-quarters of an ounce. The county has joined other cities and counties across the nation that have eased the penalties for marijuana possession to keep first-time, nonviolent offenders out of jail.
Delray Beach has also made it a priority to keep pill mills out of its community for good. In 2010, the city commission passed a law that prohibits pharmacies from collecting more than 10 percent of their total sales from controlled substances, mainly narcotics such as opioids.
In addition to drug control policy, government initiatives in Palm Beach County endeavor to prevent drug abuse through law enforcement operations. Local citizen councils identify the most effective allocation of drug prevention resources.
This task force headed by the FBI works to shut down fraudulent sober living homes in South Florida that are exploiting addicts to reap the financial benefits from patients’ insurance. The task force conducts investigations, raids and intelligence sharing to make sure sober homes in the community are truly helping individuals in recovery.
The Safe and Drug Free Schools Advisory Council meets quarterly to discuss the progress of the initiatives created in the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program. The council, comprising school district staff, community leaders and parents, reviews current projects, future project proposals and current department needs.
The Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education Task Force enlists the help of community leaders and police officers to share the dangers and consequences of drug abuse with more than 200 local schools. Parent programs that supplement school presentations are available to encourage continued conversations about drugs at home.
Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition is responsible for multiple programs that focus on topics ranging from teen alcohol abuse prevention to reducing the number of prescription drugs on the streets.
80×18 aims to have 80 percent of southeast Florida’s teens alcohol-free by 2018. Teens participate in annual youth summits, make online pledges to stay sober and learn how to have alcohol-free fun. Parents pledge not to host parties where underage drinking is allowed and learn to encourage a sober lifestyle. The organization provides alcohol retailers with free signs that announce alcohol will be served only to those 21 and over.
With 30 locations throughout Palm Beach County, Operation Pill Drop boxes allow residents to safely dispose of any unwanted or unused medications. The take-back program accepts prescriptions, vitamins, ointments, lotions and liquids in plastic or leak-proof containers.
This initiative is a partnership with Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County that encourages people to report owners of marijuana grow sites. Marijuana is often cultivated in large crops using indoor hydroponic systems and lights. Grow houses are often hidden in residential neighborhoods or ordinary looking buildings. Anyone with information on grow houses is encouraged to call 800-458-TIPS.
In an effort to reduce underage drinking, this tip line allows residents to report anyone who provides alcohol to underage individuals.
For Palm Beach County residents struggling with hardships such as financial problems, depression, suicidal thoughts or substance abuse, the 211 HelpLine strives to provide support and assistance. The community helpline and crisis hotline provide assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition to phone support, the helpline provides referrals to proper services for almost any need or problem. To receive immediate assistance, Palm Beach County residents can simply dial 211.
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Statistics show Palm Beach, Florida ranks number one in the country for teen drug use. Local teens are using Ecstasy at twice the national rate. The freedom college provides can exacerbate this behavior. However, help is available for students suffering from a substance abuse issue.
Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth and Palm Beach Gardens campuses offer crisis counseling and mental health assessments by professionals at the Counseling Center. Individual counseling and referrals are available depending on student needs. All services are private and confidential. Each campus offers student-led recovery groups to create a community of healing.
In addition to standard counseling and therapy options, Florida Atlantic University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) program offers interactive ways to educate students about drugs. Presentations such as “Getting High Getting Low” and the free online game “At-Risk for Students” provide drug information in fun, exciting ways.
FAU also holds weekly group meetings to help students get through life’s problems. The Balancing Substance Use Choices Group meets every Thursday to help students make wise choices pertaining to substance use. The group promotes personal accountability for students to develop practical relapse prevention strategies and effective stress reduction techniques. The group provides a clean, safe and substance-free environment for students to develop strong coping skills and challenge harmful substance abuse habits.
FAU provides numerous services for individuals struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. The Eating Concerns Treatment Team (ECTT) helps students with a variety of eating and food issues, including chronic dieting, restricting food, binge eating, purging, cycles of destructive eating habits and negative body image. The ECTT also assists students with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and other eating disorders. Students receive assessments followed by treatment recommendations meant to best fit the individual. Treatment recommendations can include therapy, on- or off-campus counseling, physical health monitoring and consulting with a dietitian.
The Peace with Food and Body Group is a support group that brings men and women together to explore issues concerning food, dieting, weight, body image and self-esteem. The group meets on Thursdays and provides a support system for students with eating disorders and body image issues.
Lynn University offers several programs and initiatives to keep students safe from substance abuse. Group and individual counseling services are available for students with substance use disorders or concerns. The school also provides screening tests for substance use and educational resources on substance abuse.
Lynn University also offers services that promote student safety. The Academic Life Emergency Response Team is a trained intervention team comprising the dean of students, counselors, faculty, staff and a resident director. The SafeRide program is a free, late-night shuttle service that provides a safe return to campus for students within 10 miles of Lynn. The university’s alcohol sanctions course emphasizes issues that influence an individual’s alcohol use.
For those in recovery seeking employment, Palm Beach County offers services to assist with the job hunt.
CareerSource Palm Beach County provides assistance for employers and jobseekers. The organization provides job search workshops, skill development training, specialized job training, career counseling services, assessments and job placement services for potential employees.
CareerSource aims to assist people who are trying to improve their lives. The organization provides specialized programs for veterans, people with disabilities, individuals attempting to transition off welfare and others.