In 2011, around 8 percent of Floridians used illicit drugs, which is near the national average. That means around 1.5 million Floridians used illegal drugs that year. Since Florida has such a large population, the scale of its drug problem is also large.
Unfortunately, many of those users are highly addicted. In 2013 and 2014, around 410,000 Floridians were dependent on or had abused illicit drugs within a year of being surveyed.
Heavy usage has serious consequences. Florida’s rate of drug-induced death in 2010 was higher than the national average. In 2010, drug use caused the deaths of 3,181 Floridians. That’s more people than died due to either car accidents or guns.
Like much of the United States, Florida has been hard-hit by an opiate addiction crisis. Thousands of Floridians have become dependent on prescription painkillers and heroin in the last decade. Rates of overdose and death from opiates have increased since 2010.
Florida also faces stubbornly consistent rates of cocaine and methamphetamine use. Cocaine is readily available in Florida, since the state is one of the major ports of entry for the drug. Meth users make their own supply of the drug in rural areas, or buy high-grade, imported versions of the drug in cities.
Clearly, many Floridians suffer from the awful effects of drug and alcohol abuse. Here are some of the unique factors that have brought so many Floridians to the brink.
58%of Floridians are drinkers. In major party centers like Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties, nearly 70 percent of residents consume alcohol.Florida’s hard-drinking reputation is borne out by statistics. Around 58 percent of Floridians are drinkers. In major party centers like Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties, those numbers are even higher. Nearly 70 percent of those counties’ residents consume alcohol. Around 15 percent of those areas’ residents are heavy drinkers. Alcohol abuse isn’t limited to alcoholics. Binge drinking is dangerous to everyone who tries it. One night of heavy drinking can have fatal consequences to drinkers who haven’t formed a habit. Overconsuming alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning, a fatal condition similar to a drug overdose. Fatalities from alcohol poisoning are more common in Florida than almost anywhere else. From 2010 to 2012, 103 Floridians died from overconsumption. Only nine states had more frequent alcohol poisoning deaths. Even people who don’t drink are at risk from heavy drinkers. Drunk driving happens more often in Florida than in the rest of the country. From 2003 to 2012, drunk drivers killed more than 8,000 people in Florida.
Florida’s substance abuse problems are prolific, and have begun to worsen in recent years. Indeed, many employers across the state report that they have trouble hiring drug free workers.
In particular, the opioid crisis has drawn the attention of public health workers and law enforcement.
Opioid and heroin overdoses are now so common that Florida’s first responders have begun to carry naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. Police and firefighters in some hard-hit areas report responding to overdose incidents on a daily basis. The drug is also now available over the counter at many Florida drug stores.
In Miami, public health officials have tried to battle the spread of bloodborne diseases by opening the state’s first needle exchange. Needle exchanges allow intravenous (IV) drug users — usually heroin users — to shoot up their drugs in a safe environment, using clean needles. Intravenous drug users outside safe injection sites will often share needles with fellow users, which can spread diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Some Florida governments have begun to expand drug courts. Drug courts allow convicted heavy drug users to avoid the traditional criminal justice system provided they meet regular treatment goals and benchmarks. Judges, caseworkers, and parole officers work collaboratively with convicts to ensure that they recover fully from their addictions and gain access to employment and housing.
Still, Florida’s drug crisis is growing, and has already degraded the lives of drug users and people around them. People trapped in drug addiction need help.
For all drug users and alcoholics, the best way to break the cycle of addiction is through residential rehab. Inpatient rehab separates people with substance use disorders from the habits and friends that led them to drug use.
In their place, residential rehab gives addicts a new community of fellow travelers, who encourage their peers to do the hard work of breaking addiction. Trained counselors shepherd recovering users through difficult times and keep negative influences outside the facility.
With the help and encouragement of their peers and counselors, even those with the most severe substance use disorders can start their way down the path of recovery in one of the best rehab centers in Florida.
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