Today, opioids are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the country. They are widely used across all fields of medicine and have reached the medicine cabinets of millions of people. Prescription opioids are so potent that they are most effective in treating patients in end-of-life care, however they are often used to manage moderate to severe pain. Using these medications for surgical procedures and pain management is beneficial for many, but only if they are used exactly as prescribed. Unfortunately, these medications are so addictive that even the most staunch of individuals can find themselves hooked.
How Did the Opioid Crisis Begin?
Like most crises, the opioid crisis did not happen overnight, even though it might feel like it did to some. The reason the United States is experiencing an opioid crisis today is because of precedents that were set and actions that were taken in the 2000’s.
In the 2000’s, major pharmaceutical companies developed opioid-based medications that were new to the market. Sales reps for these companies were directed to go to medical establishments and speak with medical professionals about these medications in an effort to get them to prescribe them to their patients. This is common practice in the pharmaceutical world, but what made this different was the false information provided to medical professionals on behalf of the sales reps.
Prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin are highly addictive substances. They are so addictive, in fact, that it only takes a few days of straight abuse for the body to become dependent on them. Pharmaceutical companies knew of the habit-forming nature of these medications but negligently decided to tell medical professionals that they are safe and non habit-forming. So, as medical professionals prescribed these medications (and freely), their patients were quickly coming back for more. By the time the word got around about prescription painkillers, it was too late. Hundreds of thousands of people were hooked. Some medical professionals chose to believe pharmaceutical companies and continued to write out prescriptions for these medications. Corrupt medical professionals looking to turn a dime wrote out opioid-based painkillers more than ever in an effort to keep their business making money. By 2011, opioid abuse in the United States was so pervasive that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deemed it the “opioid epidemic”.
The opioid epidemic, however, did not just include prescription painkillers. Countless individuals who were once abusing OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet began turning to cheaper and easier to access opioids like heroin. As drug prices went up, more people started using heroin. Today, the opioid epidemic has grown into the opioid crisis, with 128 people dying each day from an opioid-related overdose.
Florida Opiate Crisis
Florida is no stranger to the opiate crisis. The Sunshine State is home to several demographics that are commonly associated with opioid use and abuse, including elderly individuals and college-aged students. Florida always has been and continues to be an international tourist destination, meaning that millions of people go in and out of its borders each year.
While the opiate crisis does not discriminate, there are populations of individuals who experience opioid addiction more than others. For example, elderly individuals have high rates of opioid abuse because they are more likely to be prescribed a prescription painkiller than those of a different age. Places like Daytona Beach, Miami, and Key West are home to nightclubs and the young-adult population, who also abuse opioids at excessive rates. With these populations of individuals combined with tourists and other Floridians abusing opioids, this state has seen its fair share of opioid-related destruction.
The severity of the Florida opiate crisis can be better understood through the following data provided by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA):
- Approximately 68% of reported drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved opioids
- Overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids occurred in 10.7 out of every 100,000 Floridians in 2018
- Overdose deaths related to heroin and prescription opioids occurred in 6 out of every 100,000 Floridians in 2018
- Florida providers wrote out 53.7 opioid prescriptions for every 100,000 prescriptions (the national average is 51.4 per 100,000 people)
- 7 out of every 1,000 hospital births involved babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)
- 25.4 out of every 100,000 Floridians contracted HIV through intravenous drug use
- 357 Floridians contracted hepatitis C in 2017, another bloodborne disease that can be contracted through intravenous drug use
How is Florida Handling the Opioid Crisis?
Florida is certainly not the most opioid-flooded state in the country, however it definitely is home to many people who struggle with this specific type of substance use disorder. To help combat the growing opioid crisis in the area, the state has taken certain actions, including the following:
- Targeting pain clinics with excessive rates of opioid prescribing
- Establishing prescription drug monitoring programs, or PDMP’s, to help prevent doctor shopping by tracking the frequency of each Floridian’s opioid refills
- Increase in physicians that can provide medication-assisted treatment for recovering opioid addicts
- Public activities to promote the emergency use of Narcan (naloxone)
- Implementation of the Emergency Treatment and Recovery Act, which gives prescribers the freedom to prescribe naloxone to those patients at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose
- Overdose prevention training for social workers, police officers, nurses, addiction specialists, etc.
The execution of these and other actions taken by the state of Florida have helped decrease the amount of opioid overdoses experienced by Floridians, as well as minimized the presence of pill mills in the area.
Do You Need Professional Addiction Treatment? Call Genesis House Right Now.
If you have an addiction to opioids, then you know how painful it can be to live with active addiction. You know the internal struggle you feel when thinking about quitting, the distress your body experiences when you are not able to use, and the issues that you are trying to numb through opioid abuse. We understand those things, too. At Genesis House, we are dedicated to helping you overcome your battle with opioid addiction so that you can stop using for good.
Call us right now to get more information on how we can help you get sober, develop healthy coping skills, and learn how to live comfortably in recovery.
Do not wait. Call right now.