Florida by The Numbers:
- Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Deployed Narcan 1,200 Times In 2016
- 14 Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids Everyday
- As of July 1, 2017 — 2,664 Opioid Overdose Deaths
- Estimates Indicate that 5,328 Floridians Will Perish by the End of the Year.
- In 2017, Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue has Increased Narcan Use by 20 Percent
These opioid overdose death figures, rightly, are cause for serious concern. While the problem is not isolated to the State of Florida, the “Sunshine State” has often been in the news regarding the epidemic, particularly about pain management clinics that once littered the state, otherwise known as “pill mills.” Such clinics recklessly handed out prescriptions for drugs like OxyContin to just about anyone complaining of pain. In fact, Florida became a destination state for people looking to acquire opioids, with few questions asked.
Due to rampant over prescribing at pill mills, both state and federal government officials and law enforcement agencies cracked down, shutting down pain clinics and arresting some of the doctors who made huge profits at the expense of patient safety. The closing of pill mills was a step in the right direction; however, it did not reverse the damage with respect to opioid addiction rates in the state. As a result, opioid dependent patients looked elsewhere to fuel the fire of their disease.
Without addiction treatment, people with opioid use disorders are essentially forced to continue using these dangerous and addictive substances or they experience very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, including pain, restlessness, persistent nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Simply cutting off the supply to these drugs is not effective in encouraging people to seek addiction recovery treatment. No longer being able to rely on doctors to alleviate withdrawal, users turn to the black market to obtain illicit painkillers, heroin and other very deadly substances like fentanyl.
Opioid Addiction Task Force
In February, our co-founders at Family Recovery Specialists (FRS), Executive Director Ray Estefania and Clinical Director Ana Moreno joined the Miami-Dade Opioid Addiction Task Force. On July 9, 2017, Channel 10 ABC’s “This Week in South Florida” held a roundtable discussion about the opioid crisis in Florida. Ray Estefania took part in the panel, along with Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Russell Benford and Lissa Franklin of Young People In Recovery.
Please take a moment to watch the discussion, below:
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
Accessing Opioid Addiction Treatment
The main takeaway from the discussion was the need to provide greater access to addiction treatment services. There are thousands of people with an opioid use disorder who do not have insurance, can’t afford treatment or cannot find a state funded facility in their area. The Governor of Florida declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in May, which allocated funds for, among other things, increased access to treatment.
“Treatment really does work. We know this…We have to provide people effective, affordable treatment that they can access readily. …” —Ray Estefania, MS, LMHC, CAP, CIP, ICADC, Executive Director, Family Recovery Specialists.
If you are actively abusing opioids, or have a loved one caught in the grips of an opioid use disorder, we encourage you to reach out to us at Family Recovery Specialists for a confidential consultation or evaluation. The longer treatment is delayed, the greater the risk of a fatal overdose.
Often the first step to recovery is an intervention. At Family Recovery Specialists, we work with both adolescents and adults, helping families prepare for a substance use disorder intervention and finding the best possible treatment for someone who is in crisis. Our intervention approach is both non-confrontational and invitational. We welcome you to contact us to assist you in beginning the journey of recovery for your entire family.