North Lauderdale, Florida, is a small city located in Broward County. As of 2014, 43,214 people were living in the area. Although the small city sounds like it might be part of Fort Lauderdale, the area is actually located north and slightly west, away from the Atlantic Coast, and is not associated with Fort Lauderdale. It is a suburban area. The median age of residents in North Lauderdale is about 32 years old, younger than the Florida median age of 42 years old.
Because North Lauderdale is in the southeastern area of Florida and located within Broward County, residents of the city are at high risk of being exposed to drug and alcohol abuse. South Florida is geographically near Central America and the Caribbean Islands, so it is part of the entry of illicit substances into the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has identified that region as one of the leading places for cocaine imports from South America. Broward County also has struggled with high rates of synthetic cathinones and cannabinoids, methamphetamine and amphetamine abuse, and prescription drug abuse.
Broward County has long been criticized for having one of the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse in Florida.
While rates fluctuate, they have high rates of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drug abuse.
Broward County also previously had high rates of synthetic cannabinoid and cathinone abuse, but those suddenly declined in 2016.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for 2014 reported that about 20 percent of people in Broward County, ages 12 and older, reported binge drinking; about 7 percent reported abusing marijuana; about 3 percent reported nonmedical abuse of prescription painkillers; and 1 percent reported abusing cocaine.
While alcohol consumption, especially in the form of binge drinking, steadily declined among teenagers in Broward County between 2010 and 2016, adults in the area still struggle with problematic alcohol consumption. Alcohol was present in about half of all drug-related deaths in Florida in 2016, and it was reported as the primary substance of abuse among people entering drug treatment. About three-quarters of those entering treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) were adults older than age 34.
Alcohol was found in 2,466 deceased individuals around the state of Florida in the first six months of 2016. This represents a 7 percent increase from 2,308 alcohol-involved deaths in the first half of 2015. Alcohol was listed as the cause of death in 405 cases, which was about 16 percent. There were 1,720 arrests in and around Broward County, including in North Lauderdale, for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol.
Among people seeking drug addiction treatment in Broward County, 2,058 people ages 18 and older reported that alcohol was their primary drug of abuse. This was about 28 percent of all adults in treatment in the county, and it includes residents of North Lauderdale. About three-quarters of these admissions were men. Young adults, ages 18 to 24, accounted for about 6 percent of admissions; people 26 to 34 years old were about 20 percent of admissions; and people 35 years old and older accounted for the largest percentage of admissions at 74 percent.
This drug is abused more often among adolescents, both around the United States and in Broward County, including in North Lauderdale. About 87 percent of adolescents younger than age 18 who entered addiction treatment in Broward County reported that marijuana was their primary drug of abuse. Prevalence of marijuana abuse in this area has generally increased since 2006.
Abuse of marijuana among adolescents has been steadily increasing around Florida, including in Broward County. In 2006, 11.4 percent of high school students in the county reported abusing marijuana at least once in the past month; this increased to 19 percent by 2012, dipped to 16 percent in 2014, and then rose again to 16.7 percent in 2015.
There were 1,523 admissions to Broward County drug treatment programs in 2016 who reported that marijuana was their primary drug of abuse; this represented about 20 percent of all admissions. Men represented most of these admissions at 76 percent. There were 261 people, or about 17 percent, who were younger than 18 years old; 41 percent of marijuana treatment admissions were people ages 18 to 25; about 23 percent were people ages 26 to 34; and 19 percent were individuals ages 35 and older.
Opioid abuse is a problem throughout the U.S. This began in the early 2000s with changes to prescribing practices related to narcotic painkillers, but around 2010, many states, including Florida, cracked down on prescription opioid abuse. This led to a decline in prescription narcotics consumption, but there was a subsequent increase in heroin addiction. After a decline of prescription narcotics abuse in Broward County between 2011 and 2013, that trend is on the rise again. Alongside this troubling increase, illicit fentanyl has been found in fake prescription pills and heroin, greatly increasing the risk of overdose deaths.
Unlike other parts of the country, though, most heroin-related deaths in the state of Florida involve multiple substances. Sometimes, as in the case of an accidental fentanyl overdose, this is a combination of heroin and fentanyl; in many cases, though, it is other drugs such as benzodiazepines or alcohol.
Fentanyl has become a major problem all over the country, steeply increasing the rate of opioid overdose deaths because it is much more potent than heroin. In Florida, there was a sudden spike in fentanyl detected in people who died from opioid overdoses starting in 2014. In the first six months of 2016, there were 988 overdose deaths involving fentanyl, which includes 183 substances identified as fentanyl analogs, like carfentanil, which was found most often in opioid overdose deaths in the second half of 2016. Carfentanil is estimated to be 10,000 times more potent than morphine; one granule can cause an overdose in a human.
In Broward County, there were 94 fentanyl-caused overdose deaths in the first half of 2016, which was more than double the numbers from the previous two periods in 2015. Between July and November, there were 43 deaths in Broward County that involved carfentanil.
After a few years of declining, cocaine abuse is on the rise in Broward County again, most often in conjunction with other drugs like heroin or other opioid substances. Across the whole state, cocaine-involved overdose deaths rose 21 percent between 2015 and 2016. In 2016, cocaine was considered the cause of death in 56 percent of cases.
However, cocaine is not likely to be the sole cause of death. Instead, cocaine was one drug involved in polydrug abuse deaths, found in 88 percent of these instances. Most often, cocaine and an opioid drug were found together.
In Broward County, there was a 51 percent increase in cocaine-involved overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016. About 10 percent of people who died after abusing cocaine, and likely other drugs, were between 18 and 25 years old; 20 percent were between 26 and 34 years old; and 46 percent were 35 to 50 years old. Around 23 percent were people over the age of 50.
Most people in Florida who sought treatment for cocaine abuse reported that they smoked crack cocaine (58 percent); 36 percent of those seeking cocaine addiction treatment reported snorting the drug; and 3 percent reported injecting it intravenously.
After the rapid rise of synthetic cathinone and cannabinoid abuse – particularly flakka, Spice, and K2 – in Florida, the drugs virtually vanished in 2016. Crackdowns on stores selling the drugs, new laws, and a poor public image combined in Broward County to dramatically reduce abuse of these substances.
In 2016, Broward County reported less than 1 percent of all synthetic cannabinoids crime lab reports across the state. There were only two poison control calls from the county that year involving synthetic cannabinoids and nine involving synthetic cathinones. During the first quarter of 2017, there was only one poison control call involving synthetic cathinones from Broward County, and these calls decreased all over the rest of the state as well.
Unfortunately, Broward County, including North Lauderdale, has experienced an increase in benzodiazepine-involved deaths since 2015. This was after sharp declines from 2011 to 2013. Since benzodiazepines are often abused alongside opioids, many of the involved overdose deaths involved both opioids and benzodiazepines.
Alprazolam was the most frequently reported benzodiazepine being abused, representing 36 percent of reports in the first half of 2016. This was followed by:
There were reportedly 69 alprazolam-involved deaths in Broward County in the first six months of 2016, of which 68 percent reported that alprazolam is the “cause of death.” In 94 percent of cases, there was at least one other drug reported as present.
Cities like North Lauderdale and counties like Broward County are working hard to provide a range of drug prevention and treatment strategies for their residents. Broward County Human Services (BCHS) provides treatment options for county residents who need help.
For people who struggle with legal issues around drugs and alcohol, the county’s drug court focuses on changing thousands of lives.
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It does so by creating appropriate legal recourse for those suffering from addiction and substance abuse. One of the options provided through drug courts is to attend mandatory drug treatment programs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) does list in their Principles of Effective Treatment that drug detox and rehabilitation does not have to be voluntary to be effective.
As medical research learns more about addiction and the best paths to overcoming this disease, more areas like North Lauderdale can provide evidence-based approaches to ending substance abuse.
North Lauderdale, Florida. City-Data.com. Retrieved October 2018 from http://www.city-data.com/city/North-Lauderdale-Florida.html
4. Community Health Status Profile. Broward Regional Health Planning Council. Retrieved October 2018 from http://broward.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/community-health-planning-and-statistics/community-health-planning/_documents/community-health-status-profile-092015.pdf
(October 2016). Southeastern Florida (Miami Area) Sentinel Community Site (SCS) Drug Use Patterns and Trends, 2016. National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS). Retrieved October 2018 from https://arsh.nova.edu/research/forms/florida-scs-drug-use-patterns-trends.pdf
(June 2017). Drug Abuse Trends In Broward County, Florida, Annual Report. United Way of Broward Commission on Substance Abuse. Retrieved October 2018 from http://www.drugfreebroward.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/June-2017-Broward-Substance-Abuse-Trends-Report.pdf
Broward County Human Services. Broward. Retrieved October 2018 from http://www.broward.org/HumanServices/Pages/Default.aspx
Drug Court: Broward County. Law Office of the Public Defender, Broward County. Retrieved October 2018 from https://www.browarddefender.org/page14.html
(January 2018). Principles of Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Retrieved October 2018 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment