There’s help for those in the Tampa Bay area who seek it. If you need someone to talk to, support from people with similar experiences or expert guidance, there are organizations waiting for your call. You can find rehab and treatment facilities throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
In addition to the support services in the area, both NA and AA host meetings for Tampa area residents. If you or someone you love seeks freedom from addiction, one of the many nearby meeting locations is ready to help you on the path to recovery. Find a community of individuals who understand and care about what you’re going through.
Enjoy Busch Gardens, Adventure Island or the Tampa Theatre for entertainment. During the day, you can also check out the animals at the Florida Aquarium, Lowry Park Zoo or the nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
From canoe escapes to croc encounters, the Tampa Bay area offers a variety of outdoor activities if you’re looking for a breath of fresh air. Hillsborough River State Park, Edward Medard Park and the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve offer camping, hiking and fishing opportunities.
Enjoy warm weather on the beaches, take sailing lessons or participate in boat tours on Tampa Bay. Travel to St. Petersburg, FL to explore Fort De Soto or take a ride on a pirate cruise.
Hillsborough County and Pinellas County are entry points from the Gulf of Mexico to the I-4 Corridor, officially called the Central Florida High Intensity Trafficking Area by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Hillsborough County also leads the state of Florida in alcohol-related deaths and DUI arrests. Government agencies have implemented several initiatives to combat the substance abuse problem.
Operation Medicine Cabinet is a program led by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to reduce the pervasiveness of prescription drug abuse in the county, the leading cause of accidental death in Pinellas. Members of the community can dispose of unused medications at local sheriff’s offices. The sheriff’s office also hosts educational and awareness programs in the county.
Operation Parental Awareness and Responsibility provides resources and mental health services at locations in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and neighboring counties. Located in Pinellas Park, Operation PAC is a nonprofit organization partnered with the Florida Office of Drug Control, Florida Department of Children and Families and the Pinellas County government.
The DEA works in partnership with multiple local law enforcement agencies to form the Tampa Colombian/South American Drug Trafficking Task Force. The task force attempts to limit the amount of illegal narcotics in the area by targeting South American trafficking organizations. The neighboring Pinellas County and Polk County Task Forces also work together to target the sale and distribution of illicit drugs.
The Hillsborough Sheriff’s Alcohol Vendor Enforcement (SAVE) partnership with alcohol vendors and retailers provides educational resources to vendor employees in an effort to reduce traffic fatalities involving alcohol. Hillsborough DUI Counterattack is a mandatory program for DUI convicts. It offers drug and alcohol education to those found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The city of Tampa passed an open container ordinance in 2011 that decriminalized carrying an open container of alcohol on city streets. It’s now a civil issue that requires a fine instead of an arrest for breaking the law. The city tries to provide safe environments for people to consume alcohol, making open containers legal in designated zones during the Gasparilla festival and along Tampa’s Riverwalk.
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Alcohol abuse is one of the top health concerns for young people in Tampa Bay, FL area. Alcohol is the top substance of abuse among high school students in Hillsborough County, and traffic accidents involving alcohol are the top cause of death for people ages 15–25 in the county.
Marijuana and tobacco use are the second-most-abused substances by Hillsborough high schoolers, and deaths from oxycodone, methadone, cocaine and Xanax (alprazolam) overdose also plague young adults in the area. Colleges and universities in the Tampa area provide outreach programs and resources for students who are suffering from substance use disorders or looking for guidance.
Hillsborough Community College is partnered with BayCare Life Management to give students counseling services for a variety of topics. HCC’s Student Assistance Program provides round-the-clock counseling services and resources for students with alcohol or drug addictions. Counseling services are free and confidential and provided by mental health professionals who specialize in substance abuse and underlying causes such as stress, anxiety and peer pressure.
The University of Tampa Coalition for Enhanced Drug and Alcohol Resources and Study (CEDARS) brings students, faculty and community members together to reduce risky behavior. A number of student organizations also raise awareness on campus. Creating Healthy Alternatives and Options for Students (CHAOS) provides information on alcohol and drug use, Rx Factor raises prescription drug abuse awareness and Watch Your BAC provides education on alcohol abuse.
The University of South Florida counseling services provides mental health and substance abuse education and resources to USF students. The Students of Concern Assistance Team (SOCAT) provides support to students who are struggling with a variety of issues involving emotional distress. USF also offers Behavioral Healthcare undergraduate and graduate degrees and certifications in which students research substance abuse and mental health diseases.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, also called 2-1-1, provides crisis health services for people in Hillsborough and nearby Pinellas and Hernando Counties. People in those counties can receive 24-7 information and referral services by dialing 211.
Tampa Crossroads provides certified treatment, housing and employment programs for men, women and families working toward a healthy way of life. The goals of Tampa Crossroads are to help those in need remain sober, get jobs, establish a place to live and be able to live independently.
Eckerd Kids foster care in Clearwater, Florida provides temporary foster homes for children under 18 years old and therapeutic foster care for children ages 3–18. About 80 percent of foster children in Hillsborough County, FL are removed from homes because of their parent’s substance use disorder. Eckerd Kids teaches children fundamental life and social skills until a permanent home can be found.
Are you looking to give back to the Tampa, FL community? Do you want to help reduce alcohol and illicit drug use in Hillsborough and Pinellas County, Florida? A number of organizations rely on volunteers to provide free services.
Founded in 1989, the Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance actively supports substance abuse prevention efforts in the Hillsborough community. HCADA task forces include the Tampa Alcohol Coalition, Tobacco Free Partnership of Hillsborough County, a Marijuana Task Force and a Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force.
The West Central Florida office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving works to guard families from drunk, drugged and underage driving. It also supports and advocates for victims of drunk or drugged driving accidents. Volunteers can advocate, speak out, raise money, mentor youth, assist with office tasks and more.