Substance abuse and addiction, unfortunately, are part of the fabric of our society, which makes the ever-present need for rehabilitation services clear. While a perfect place to “get away” from it all, South Florida has not escaped this reality, and it’s why facilities here open their doors to help people who struggle with addiction and mental health disorders.
Data reported in recent years indicate that in 2018, “an estimated 21.2 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment in the past year.” While getting treatment for substance abuse is highly recommended, not everyone will. The reasons why vary.
Some people think they do not need rehab because they don’t think they have a problem, while others don’t know where to begin to look for help. Still, others who will enter a facility for drug addiction, which could be the best decision they make.
South Florida continues to face the myriad of challenges with substance abuse under its sunshine-filled skies like much of the rest of the state. The national crisis of opioid addiction has affected the area, and counties continue to see these drugs, and others affect Floridians.
According to data highlighted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “nearly 68% of the 4,698 reported drug overdose deaths in Florida involved opioids in 2018—a total of 3,189 fatalities (and a rate of 15.8).”
Broward County is among the Florida counties that have seen opioid overdose cases spike, particularly since traces of the powerful drug fentanyl started being found in heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. In Fort Lauderdale, Broward’s largest city, 110 people died of heroin-related overdoses in 2018, and fentanyl was linked to 287 deaths in that city.
Opioid addiction was also a problem the year before in 2017. That year, Broward tracked record levels of heroin overdose deaths; most notably 85 percent of the 1,642 overdoses treated in hospital emergency rooms in the county were linked to heroin.
According to a 2017 report from the United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse Annual Drug Trends, an increase in overdoses involving cocaine and benzodiazepines have also been recorded in Broward.
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A 2018 Florida Department of Children and Families report that tracked substance abuse trends statewide noted that cocaine use had increased in South Florida. The report also noted that data from law enforcement in Broward and Palm Beach counties shows that cocaine, heroin, and cannabis (marijuana) were the top drugs seized from individuals in 2017.
Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach County all ranked among the top counties in Florida for cocaine and the causal occurrence of opioids such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, heroin, oxycodone, and morphine.
Alcohol is also an issue, and many people seek treatment at a facility for problematic drinking.
According to the United Way’s report, alcohol was the most-cited drug among people admitted to rehab in Broward County in 2016.
Heroin comes after marijuana, as it is cheap and also easy to get on the recreational drug scene. Other drugs of abuse include prescription opioids, synthetic marijuana (fake weed), and synthetic cathinones.
Many South Florida-based substance abuse treatment providers have helped residents and visitors address their addictions and start anew with the strategies and skills needed to achieve sobriety.
State lawmakers have worked toward reform to help address the nationwide opioid epidemic, and part of that effort has been to shut down clinics involved in the “pill mill” scandal of the early 2000s. Recent legislation aims to limit the number of opioid prescriptions issued for pain by a doctor to help reduce the chances of someone becoming addicted to the potent medications.
Addiction is more than just an unwillingness to stop drinking or doing drugs. It is a complex disease of the brain that is likely to worsen if not addressed, a reality that many South Floridians face. While the disease isn’t curable, it is highly treatable with the right programs and services that fit the individual who is being treated.
As substance abuse experiences differ from person to person, so do the experiences of addiction. Drug rehab approaches will vary depending on who is receiving the treatment. Accredited treatment centers usually assess their clients first and consult with the continuum of care before deciding where to place them.
The most effective drug rehab centers in South Florida are the ones that consider the person’s unique needs first, so this is key to remember if you are looking for a facility that offers this service.
Also, the goal of drug rehab is to help people gain control over their lives with strategies and tools that help them manage their triggers in a healthy way so that they don’t turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with life’s challenges. They also get help learning how to avoid a relapse.
2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. PDF file. from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018.pdf
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, April 30). Florida: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/florida-opioid-involved-deaths-related-harms
Medical examiners Commission. (2019, November). Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons by Florida Medical Examiners. Retrieved from https://www.fdle.state.fl.us/MEC/Publications-and-Forms/Documents/Drugs-in-Deceased-Persons/2018-Interim-Drug-Report-FINAL.aspx
WLRN. (2018, August 30) Heroin Overdoses In Broward Remain At Record Levels. Switalski, C. Retrieved from https://www.wlrn.org/post/heroin-overdoses-broward-remain-record-levels#stream/0
United Way of Broward County. United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse Drug Abuse Trends In Broward County, Florida. Annual Report: June 2017. Retrieved from https://www.unitedwaybroward.org/sites/default/files/images/Commission%20on%20Behavioral%20Health%20%26%20Drug%20Prevention/Prevention%20Resource%20Center/June-2017-Broward-Substance-Abuse-Trends-Report.pdf
Florida Department of Health. Patterns and Trends of the Opioid Epidemic in Florida 2018. Florida’s State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (SEOW). Retrieved from http://www.floridahealth.gov/statistics-and-data/e-forcse/fl-seow-annual-report-2018.pdf
Saunders, Jim. (2018, March 19). Gov. Rick Scott signs bill targeting opioid addiction in Florida. Retrieved March, 2018 from https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2018/03/19/gov-rick-scott-signs-bill-targeting-opioid-addiction-florida/438455002/
Drug addiction (substance use disorder). (2017, October 26). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2015, May 13) ASAM Continuum. Knowledge Base. What are the ASAM Levels of Care? Retrieved from https://www.asamcontinuum.org/knowledgebase/what-are-the-asam-levels-of-care/