Rehab centers in Sarasota are dedicated to helping people with drug or alcohol addictions overcome their substance abuse problems. The area hosts numerous support group meetings that help those with addictions interact with and learn from people in similar situations.
Sober living environments strive to keep people in recovery sober. The Sarasota area has traditional and faith-based sober living homes for people struggling with the temptations of drugs and alcohol.
Purpose House Transitional Homes provides faith-based sober living homes in Sarasota County. The organization assists those wishing to transition to drug-free lives through 12-step programs and counseling. The nonprofit also offers career workshops and leadership training to its residents.
Abba’s Haven offers Christian-based sober living housing for men in the Sarasota area. The organization provides structured and safe sober environments that include recovery coaching and 12-step programs.
Residences house up to 60 men, with two people sharing a room. Amenities include a laundry room, living room and family room. These facilities also include high-definition TVs, cable, refrigerators and a full kitchen. Residents have access to an internet-ready computer and phone services during their stay.
LaGasse Family Foundation works to help men in recovery become responsible, productive and self-supporting members of society. The organization operates three recovery homes in Sarasota, each named after someone affected by addiction. Residents must adhere to a zero-tolerance policy for drug or alcohol use while at LaGasse.
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Many organizations and educational institutions in the Sarasota area assist people in recovery with vocational skills. These groups also assist community members in searching for employment opportunities.
CareerSource Suncoast connects people in Manatee and Sarasota counties with career opportunities. The organization has career centers that assist job seekers in numerous ways. These locations provide computers, e-learning courses, job listings and assessments for skills, aptitude and interest. They also host workshops designed to increase employability and provide salary and labor market information.
Career centers have workforce-certified employment resource specialists who assist with job leads, resume writing and other training and career-building services. CareerSource Suncoast also employs personal coaches to prepare individuals for interviews.
CareerEdge Funders Collaborative assists employees in developing their vocational skills. The organization helps individuals assess their talents, identify key skills and professional interests, overcome work-related barriers, locate employment opportunities and access public services and income support.
CareerEdge strives to help people increase their earning potential and professional opportunities while expanding their industry knowledge. As of October 2016, the organization’s efforts have resulted in 2,049 earned raises, 541 promotions and $15,200 in bonuses.
Bridges to Careers is a CareerEdge program designed to help people enhance their skills and earning capacity. The initiative assists people with writing job applications, resumes and cover letters. The program holds mock interviews, helping job seekers enhance their interview skills. Digital literacy training is also provided, which teaches valuable computer skills.
Women’s Resource Center of Manatee strives to inspire, educate and support women during life transitions. The organization also provides female job seekers with career-related information and resources.
It offers employment coaching for developing resumes, searching for jobs, evaluating career paths, handling interviews and networking effectively. The Career Closet at the Women’s Resource Center offers a selection of work-appropriate clothing for job interviews and work. The organization also offers computer classes and career pathway resources.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test is a personality assessment that helps women identify potential career choices. The evaluation reveals information that job seekers can use to find a position that offers the greatest opportunity for success and satisfaction. The Suncoast Workforce Mobile Unit helps women apply for unemployment and welfare assistance.
Higher learning institutions in Sarasota County do more than just educate: They assist students in preparing for life after college. These institutions provide counselors or career coaches who provide assistance to students seeking internships and employment.
Area colleges also work to reduce substance abuse among their students through numerous prevention programs and educational materials.
The Career Resource Center (CRC) at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota provides career guidance and employment preparation to students. At CRC, students can take assessments, explore careers and engage in educational planning. The center also provides on-campus employment and internship opportunities.
The college’s Counseling Services department comprises a network of licensed mental health professionals who help students with various issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, peer pressure and drug and alcohol use.
The Public Safety department provides educational materials on the health risks of drugs, drinking and driving and other topics related to personal safety.
The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee has a career services department that aims to inspire students to explore career paths. The department also teaches students ways to transition from college to graduate school or the workforce. Career services offers assessments that help students identify career paths that match their interests, skills, values and personality.
USF Sarasota-Manatee receives funds from a Department of Education grant. The university contributes matching funds to create jobs for students who receive Federal Work Study awards and want to work part time while attending college. The school helps students find jobs and internships and explore career paths, as well.
The university also combats drug abuse through numerous on-campus programs.
The Interactive Screening Program allows students to gauge their levels of stress, anxiety, depression or other problems that can impede academic, social and personal life. USF also has counseling, crisis and student health services.
Alcohol e-CheckUpToGo is an interactive online survey that identifies drinking habits and patterns in students. The assessment also compares student responses to those of other students nationwide.
USF Sarasota-Manatee offers resources on issues related to anxiety, anger control and emotional management, depression, eating and body image, stress management, addiction and recovery.
Ringling College of Art and Design offers career support to its students through training and career preparation services. School professionals provide students with job-searching strategies, interview training and portfolio building. Employers also visit the college to deliver presentations and interview students.
Ringling College also uses College Central, a network for job-seeking college students. More than 6,500 employers use the source as a recruiting tool.
The school offers students a wide range of health and wellness services to reduce substance abuse on campus.
SAPHIRE (Sexual Assault Prevention and Health Intimate Relationship Education) is a program that spreads awareness about sexual assault to the campus community. The program offers support for survivors of sexual assault, who often grapple with self-blame, guilt, anxiety or depression.
The Peterson Counseling Center offers free services to students dealing with stress, loneliness, anxiety, depression or substance abuse. The counseling center also provides 24/7 crisis intervention services.
Students can schedule confidential one-on-one sessions with a counselor or meet in small groups. Educational workshops on stress management and body image issues also take place on campus, and psychiatrists are available for limited hours several times per month.
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According to a report by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, drug overdoses hit Sarasota County hard in 2015. Substances that affected the region included opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants.
Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine used to treat people with anxiety and panic disorders. Popular brands of the drug include Xanax and Niravam.
Side effects associated with the drug include drowsiness, slurred speech and memory problems. It can also cause depressed mood, suicidal thoughts, confusion and rapid heartbeats.
In 2015, alprazolam was associated with 1,439 deaths in Florida, a 9.3 percent increase from the previous year. The drug was involved in 80 deaths in the Sarasota Florida Medical Examiner District, which includes DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties in 2015.
|Alprazolam-Related Deaths in Sarasota District (2015)|
|Cause of Death||44|
|Present at Death||36|
Residents of the Sarasota district aged 35 to 50 had the highest rate of alprazolam-caused deaths in 2015, followed by people aged 26 to 34.
Side effects of the drug include muscle weakness, lack of coordination and muscle twitching. More severe symptoms include hallucinations, shallow breathing and new or worsening seizures.
In Florida, diazepam was involved 604 deaths in 2015. The Sarasota district experienced 36 diazepam-related deaths that year.
|Diazepam-Related Deaths in Sarasota District (2015)|
|Cause of Death||18|
|Present at Death||18|
In the Sarasota district, people aged 51 and older had the highest rate of diazepam-caused deaths in 2015, followed by those aged 35 to 50.
Oxycodone is an opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. However, the drug is addictive, and it has contributed to the opioid epidemic in the United States.
Oxycodone use can cause side effects that may include drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and lightheadedness. Signs of overdose include chest pain, irregular heartbeat and change in consciousness.
In Florida, 1,081 deaths in 2015 were associated with the drug. The Sarasota district experienced 47 deaths involving oxycodone that year.
|Oxycodone-Related Deaths in Sarasota District (2015)|
|Cause of Death||27|
|Present at Death||20|
In 2015, people aged 51 and older had the highest rate of oxycodone-caused deaths in the Sarasota district, followed closely by individuals aged 35 to 50.
Hydrocodone is an opioid used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. However, this habit-forming drug has side effects that include fever, abdominal pain and vomiting. Signs of overdose include confusion, pale skin and decreased awareness.
In 2015, the drug was responsible for 680 deaths in Florida, 28 of which occurred in the Sarasota district.
|Hydrocodone-Related Deaths in Sarasota District (2015)|
|Cause of Death||11|
|Present at Death||17|
Eleven of the 28 hydrocodone-related deaths occurred among people aged 35 or older.
Methadone is an opioid used to reduce withdrawal symptoms among individuals with heroin addictions. It often is used as a pain reliever. Side effects of methadone include fatigue, skin rash and dizziness. More severe symptoms include numbness and seizures.
In 2015, methadone was involved in 453 deaths in Florida. In the Sarasota district, the drug played a role in 25 deaths.
|Methadone-Related Deaths in Sarasota District (2015)|
|Cause of Death||17|
|Present at Death||8|
People aged 35 or older accounted for all methadone-caused deaths in the Sarasota district in 2015. Twenty-three of the 25 methadone-related deaths involved other drugs.
Morphine is an opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. Like other opioids, morphine is habit-forming, even at regular doses. Side effects of the drug include cramps, sleepiness and weight loss. Symptoms of overdose include increased blood pressure, fever and lower back or side pain.
|Morphine-Related Deaths in Sarasota District (2015)|
|Cause of Death||53|
|Present at Death||69|
In 2015, morphine and fentanyl were the deadliest opioids in the Sarasota district with 122 deaths each. People aged 35 to 50 had the highest number of morphine-caused deaths that year, followed by individuals aged 26 to 34.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic that is 50 to 100 times more toxic than morphine. It is used to treat severe pain, usually after surgery. Side effects of fentanyl include dizziness, dry mouth and irregular heartbeat. Shallow or slow breathing is an indicator of overdose.
In Florida, 911 people died of fentanyl-related causes in 2015. The Sarasota district accounted for 122 deaths involving the drug.
|Fentanyl-Related Deaths in Sarasota District (2015)|
|Cause of Death||111|
|Present at Death||11|
In 2015, people aged 35 to 50 had the highest rate of fentanyl-caused deaths in Sarasota, followed by individuals aged 26 to 34. Meanwhile, Manatee County, located 23 miles northeast of Sarasota, had the highest rate of fentanyl-related deaths in the state.
Heroin is an opioid that is synthesized from morphine. It generally appears in the form of white or brown powder.
Heroin use can severely damage the body. Chronic heroin users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, or liver or kidney disease. The drug can also lead to pulmonary complications, such as pneumonia.
The drug was involved in 779 Florida deaths in 2015. That year, the Sarasota district recorded its highest number of heroin-related deaths in the 15 years of data available in the report.
|Heroin-Related Deaths in Sarasota District (2015)|
|Cause of Death||61|
|Present at Death||7|
People aged 26 to 34 had the highest number of heroin-caused deaths in the Sarasota district in 2015, followed by individuals aged 35 to 50.
In September 2016, the Sarasota Police Department asked the public for assistance in curbing the heroin crisis. The department encouraged people to spread the word of this epidemic. It also urged individuals with heroin addictions to seek programs intended to reduce their substance abuse.
“This is a community effort. So divided we’re going to fail at this, and united we have a chance,” Sarasota Deputy Chief Pat Robinson told WFLA News Channel 8. “So please, if you’re not involved in this conversation, get involved in this conversation. Because the police department can’t do it alone.”
Cocaine is an addictive stimulant that comes in the form of white, crystal powder. The drug can be snorted, consumed or injected intravenously.
Cocaine can lead to extreme happiness and energy. However, consequences of using this drug include restlessness, severe paranoia and malnourishment. Overdosing on cocaine can lead to death.
In Florida, the drug was associated with 1,834 deaths in 2015. The Sarasota district recorded its highest number of cocaine-related deaths in the 15 years of data available in the report.
|Cocaine-Related Deaths in Sarasota District (2015)|
|Cause of Death||89|
|Present at Death||45|
People aged 35 to 50 had the highest rate of cocaine-caused deaths, followed by individuals aged 51 or older.
Sarasota County experienced between 10 and 14.99 deaths involving cocaine per 100,000 people, according to the report.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a set of complications that occur in a newborn exposed to opioids while in the mother’s womb. These problems may include blotchy skin, high-pitched crying, irritability, slow weight gain, trembling or seizures.
Florida experienced 2,487 cases of NAS among babies born in 2015, according to the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration. More than 3 percent of babies in Sarasota County were born with the disorder in 2015 — a tenfold increase from 2007.
“I walk into work and I expect at least one of my babies to have NAS,” neonatal intensive care unit nurse Krista Caffrey told the Bradenton Herald.
A rise in the number of babies born with NAS at Sarasota Memorial Hospital began around 2006. At the time, most newborns with NAS experienced withdrawals from cocaine or marijuana. Heroin became a problem nearly a decade later.
Nonprofit organizations in Sarasota County work to reduce substance abuse through programs that provide education, intervention and support to individuals battling addiction or in recovery. Many initiatives also inform young people of the dangers of drug and alcohol use.
The Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse uses numerous programs to prevent area substance abuse. The organization works with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and Sarasota County Schools for Project AIM, a program that teaches retailers and restaurant and lounge staff in Sarasota County to identify potentially impaired drivers.
The Community Awareness Program engages the community in substance abuse prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery. The program uses a diverse marketing plan, including a media campaign, to accomplish its goals.
The Community Empowerment Program provides substance abuse education to parents, community members and professionals. It also supports the creation of a mentoring center to increase collaboration among service providers.
The goal of the ASSESS Program is to promote substance abuse and mental health assessments within businesses, educational institutions and health care facilities.
The Partners in Justice Program is an effort to advocate for drug diversionary practices in the judicial system. The program includes projects that promote a continuum of care for at-risk youth and adults.
Believe in All Your Possibilities is a campaign that asks communities to have confidence in young people’s potential to succeed. USF, the Sarasota County Health Department and a community board work together to prevent smoking and alcohol use among middle school students. The project also provides intervention strategies to the community.
Drug Free Sarasota is a coalition that works to reduce drug use and underage drinking through prevention initiatives, educational meetings, community collaborations and outreach. The organization uses marketing campaigns to inform the public on the dangers of substance abuse.
The Alcohol Environmental Scan project gathers information about how alcohol is advertised in locations such as billboards, stores, bars, clubs and other locations that promote or sell alcoholic beverages. Drug Free Sarasota uses the information to develop a state report and county-level data on alcohol exposure.
The organization also informs the community of prescription drug take-back locations. Its website includes substance abuse prevention resources and statistics on underage alcohol use.
The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County assists and supports pregnant women, infants and young children in Sarasota County.
Healthy Start services include phone consultations or meetings with a trained nurse or social service provider, classes in baby care, breastfeeding and childbirth education, and smoking cessation education. The organization also provides free parenting classes, grief counseling and in-home postpartum support.
Healthy Start also conducts prenatal and infant risk screening.
The organization participates in the Show Your Love campaign, which promotes healthy habits before becoming pregnant. Meanwhile, Clean Start provides women with information on drugs and the dangers of substance abuse during pregnancy.
Drug-Free Youth (D-Fy) is a movement of Sarasota County students in sixth through 12th grade who commit to living drug free. Through this prevention initiative, area youth complete an application that confirms their commitments to avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco. All potential members take a confidential drug screening upon joining. Members also can attend exclusive D-Fy events.
First Step of Sarasota is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable treatment for substance abuse. In addition to inpatient and outpatient treatment, First Step offers a family safety program for families in jeopardy of losing custody of their children because of substance abuse. This program provides family intervention, outpatient treatment and parenting education. It also offers anger management, substance abuse therapy and case management.
The nonprofit works with Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to engage parents with substance abuse issues to seek treatment while their newborn is in the NICU.
First Step also offers the Early Intervention program, which provides HIV/AIDS education and intervention services.
NOPE of Sarasota County educates middle school to college students about the dangers of drug abuse. A network of community leaders visits Sarasota County schools to deliver educational lessons and personal testimonies about substance abuse. During presentations, police officers talk about the difficult task of delivering death notifications to parents who have lost their children to substance abuse.
Presentations are also available for parents. Community leaders and counselors inform parents of areas where drugs are prevalent, signs of drug use and how they can talk to their children about substance abuse. Parents are encouraged to ask questions or speak privately with a counselor.
The Sarasota Family YMCA strives to strengthen the community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y collaborates with local community agencies through the Safe Children Coalition, an effort to provide child welfare services to abused, neglected or abandoned children.
The organization offers the Operation Graduation Continuum of Care program, which supports at-risk, minority and disadvantaged youth. These programs target those at risk for becoming involved with gangs, substance abuse or criminal activity.
The Y also provides mentoring, youth development and wellness activities.
David Forestier is an interventionist in Sarasota, Florida. He is a nationally certified recovery coach and the director of support services for O2 Recovery Support Services.
Forestier grappled with addiction while living in the Bronx, New York. With the help of his family, he recovered. He has five years of professional experience in recovery support services and eight years of experience as director of a residential school for at-risk teens.
O2 Recovery Support Services provides recovery and intervention services to clients and their loved ones. The organization supports people battling addictions to alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, prescription medications, obsessive disorders and co-dependency.
For more information, visit O2recovery.com.
Sarasota County government organizations are dedicated to reducing substance abuse in the area. These entities have created programs to educate the community on the dangers of substance abuse.
The Sarasota County Drug Court program allows nonviolent drug offenders to go through treatment and judicial supervision in lieu of incarceration. The drug court addresses drug and alcohol dependence through a four-phase system that lasts at least 12 months. Participants are supervised through random home visits, drug and alcohol screenings, electronic monitoring and case management. The program represents an effort by the county to reduce recidivism and create a safer community.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office implements numerous programs to reduce substance abuse in the region.
The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch of Bradenton/Sarasota provides residential living and activities for youth. The purpose of the ranch is to prevent delinquency and develop lawful, resilient and productive young people.
The sheriff’s office also provides information on gang violence in the area. Its website outlines signs, statistics and other information related to gang activity. Parents can obtain a copy of “Street Gang Awareness,” a gang awareness guide, from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Local residents can visit the sheriff’s office to safely dispose of their unused, unwanted or expired medications.
The North Port Drug Disposal Program allows residents to safely dispose of their unused or expired prescription medications. The program aims to reduce accidental or intentional misuse of prescription drugs. Citizens can place their secured medications into a disposal vault within the North Port Police Department lobby, which is open 24/7.