It’s hard to ignore the sheer destruction opioids have caused throughout our society. The ripple effects cause problems for more than just the addict. Countless families across the United States and abroad have buried family members because of opioid addiction that led to a fatal overdose. In addition, the opioid crisis has caused many parents to bury their children and many children to grow up as orphans, repeating the cycle to numb the pain of losing their parents.
It’s a vicious cycle, and despite the government’s intervention and instruction of new guidelines for opioid prescriptions from physicians, it has only pushed those with opioid use disorders (OUDs) to rely on illicit drugs like heroin or fentanyl. As a result, the number of prescription opioid overdoses has dropped dramatically, but opioid use overall remains unfathomably high. Despite the availability of opioid treatment in states like Florida, the numbers continue to remain high.
In 2019, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported 50,000 opioid-involved overdose deaths in the United States. Misusing and abusing opioids, as was mentioned above, is a national crisis that affects public health as a whole. The situation also has a social and economic impact. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released figures showing that opioid misuse costs the country $78.5 billion each year. The numbers stem from lost productivity, costs of healthcare, criminal justice involvement, and addiction treatment.
NIDA also found that 21 to 29 percent of people prescribed opioids for chronic pain will end up misusing them, and eight to 12 percent of those people using opioids for chronic pain will develop an opioid use disorder. Even worse, four to six percent of those people that misuse prescription opioids will transition to heroin. The same study found that 80 percent of people who use heroin started by misusing prescription opioids.
Florida is a state that’s been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis. The state is notorious for more than cocaine and sunny weather. However, in recent memory, it was known for “pill mills,” where crooked doctors prescribed hundreds of pills without medical justification and raked in millions of dollars at the expense of others’ lives. People from all over the United States would drive to Florida and take advantage of these shady doctors, but the sunshine state bore the brunt of the hit.
The state of Florida and the United States government took notice and came down hard. Slowly but surely, these operations were shut down but left a trail of devastation in the form of opioid addiction. Let’s take a look at the statistics and how Florida has been affected by these drugs.
For the last ten years, alcohol has been the number one substance causing deaths in the state of Florida. However, 2020 was the first year that alcohol was surpassed by opioids as the leading cause of death statewide, according to data released by the Medical Examiners Commission.
As was mentioned above, the government clamped down on doctors who overprescribed, but it led to an increase in illicit opioid use. Fentanyl was the leading cause of death in Florida, causing 2,838 deaths in the first six months of 2020. In 2019, there were 6,128 deaths caused by opioids and 3,655 due to fentanyl. Another 1,855 deaths were caused by morphine, but many believe heroin was the cause as it’s broken down to morphine in the body.
The information that continues to be collected about drug use, addiction, and overdose from 2020 is widely believed to be inflated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically affected opioid addiction and overdose rates. The interim report showed a 70 percent increase in deaths related to fentanyl from January to June 2020 compared to the same period a year before.
Over the past decade, opioids have been a significant public health concern in the state. However, the sudden influx of fentanyl-related deaths has overtaken alcohol-related deaths, proving that opioids are a problem in Florida. Despite the ongoing threat that continues to grow in severity throughout the state, local and state government officials have worked to address the issues relating to opioid misuse and addiction. The CDC provided the state with a grant in 2019 to develop overdose surveillance systems that offer new data and insight into the fight against opioid addiction.
As opioid addiction rages on in Florida, the need for treatment continues to grow. If there’s any silver lining, the sunshine state is well-known for its top-rated and world-renowned addiction treatment facilities. Many people seeking help come to Florida for the weather, but they stay for the vast recovery community throughout the state. If you’ve been using opioids and live in Florida, or you’re considering moving for treatment, it’s vital to understand what to expect upon your arrival.
One of the primary barriers to opioid treatment is the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms you’ll face upon cessation. Although opioid withdrawal is seldom dangerous, the symptoms are severe enough to push a person into relapse. The issue here is when you stop for a few days and your tolerance decreases, using the same dose you’ve become comfortable with taking could cause a fatal overdose.
For this reason, the first step a person will take when going to opioid treatment in Florida is medical detox. During this phase, the addict will endure three to seven days in a professional facility designed to house them while the opioids exit their system. Physicians and addiction specialists will administer medications and provide 24-hour monitoring to help you overcome the worst of the symptoms and offer emotional support.
During detox, the team will assess the client to determine the next step in their journey. Treatment must be tailored to their individual needs. For example, some people will require more intensive care than others if they’ve been using drugs like fentanyl intravenously, as opposed to a person who was taking hydrocodone as prescribed. On that same note, a person who may have a less severe substance use disorder but is diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder might also need more intensive care.
Once detox is complete, the next step will either be an inpatient or outpatient facility. A residential facility is when the individual lives on-site for a period of up to 90 days and completes intense therapy programs, while outpatient is where the person will complete the same intense therapy but have the opportunity to go home once they finish their sessions.
If you’re in need of opioid treatment in Florida, help is available.