After the prescription drug epidemic of 2010, South Florida is again witnessing an alarming increase in the number of opioid-related mortalities. As per reports, while the state of Florida continues to report an increase in heroin-related fatalities, the first half of 2016 saw more than 700 people in the state dying of a fentanyl overdose, which is almost twice as many as those dying from heroin.
Since the 1970s, counties across the state, especially in Central and South Florida, have witnessed a massive increase in cases of heroin addiction and overdoses. Between Oct. 2016 and April 2017, Lake County reported 24 opioid-related overdoses with four deaths. In Orange County alone, since Jan. 2017, more than 43 people have died of a drug overdose.
As the state continues to strengthen its hold on the statewide pill mills, drug users have turned to more deadly drug mixes. They are lacing heroin with fentanyl and carfentanil to get a more potent mix and increase profit margins. The trio poses to be the most lethal drug combination haunting the state’s backyard.
The state’s growing opioid epidemic has forced Governor Rick Scott to declare a statewide public health emergency. He also signed the fentanyl trafficking bill into a law, which introduced a minimum prison term for those caught with fentanyl or carfentanil; would hold drug dealers accountable in cases of overdose and death; and would allow the state to draw more than $27 million in federal grant funding to fight the opioid epidemic. The money will be directed to be used for prevention, treatment and recovery services including providing Naloxone to law enforcement, emergency medical personnel and firefighters, across the state.
Higher doses of Narcan needed
A prescription medicine, Narcan is an opioid antidote that is effective in blocking effects of an opioid and eventually reversing an overdose. While the antidote has not been shown to cause any physical or psychological damage, it can produce withdrawal symptoms that may appear within minutes of administering it. Seeing its effectiveness in reversing the influence of an opioid, in 2016, the Sunshine State passed a law doing away with the necessity of a prescription to purchase Narcan.
While most County Sheriff’s offices, including those of Orange County and Seminole County, have trained dozens of their deputies to administer Narcan, taking the fight against opioid addiction and overdose further, the most recent to join the bandwagon is the Lake Country Sheriff’s office. The department has trained its officers to use Narcan and has equipped its supervisors, undercover agents and patrolling officers with 112 doses of Narcan, estimated to cost $4,742 to the department.
Although Lake County has seen an increase in the number of overdose cases, it is also seeing the administration of higher doses of Narcan to help revive patients. According to John Simpson, chief operating officer (COO), Lake County Emergency Medical Services, opioid overdose cases in the county have seen an increase of 45 percent from the year before. According to him, in 2016, the county saw the emergency responders administer about 900 standard doses of Narcan with some patients needing more of the drug to revive.
Since the new sheriff, Peyton Grinnell, has joined the department at Lake County, many of his changes to the department have involved drugs. The Sheriff further plans to ask for funds to staff full-time educational officers in school. These officers would be responsible for educating children about the harmful effects of drugs. In addition to saving lives, the Sheriff’s aim is to close the noose around heroin dealers across the county.
Heroin addiction can be treated
An illegal and extremely addictive substance, heroin continues to be a commonly abused drug in the U.S. Known to induce a state of relaxation and euphoria, heroin usage blocks the brain’s ability to perceive pain. Used for instilling a sense of ecstasy among its users, long-term and continuous use of heroin can lead to an addiction, tolerance and dependence.
Considered among the leading heroin detox centers in the U.S., Sovereign Health of Florida has evidence-based treatments at both its Pompano Beach and Fort Myers facilities. Offering a holistic addiction treatment program, care modalities at Sovereign’s Florida facilities may involve detoxification, behavioral therapies, and experiential therapies.
For more information on our heroin addiction treatment programs or to locate our state-of-the-art treatment centers near you, call our 24/7 helpline number. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.