Florida is known for beautiful beaches, exciting nightlife, and of course, “the happiest place on earth”, Disney World. What is less known, is its reputation for some of the highest rates of drug and alcohol use in the United States. Substance abuse and substance use disorders are common among those who reside in Florida, and many of them struggle with addiction.
Florida’s rate of drug abuse and drug-related deaths is higher than the national average and there are about 3,000 deaths per year from drug use. In fact, there are more drug-related deaths in the state than there are deaths by gun violence or car accidents.
Addiction statistics in Florida are essential to understanding the bigger picture of the illegal drugs and substance abuse crisis in America.
Fast Facts About Addiction in Florida
Approximately 8% of Florida citizens are using illicit drugs at any given point in time, which comes out to be approximately 1.5 million Floridians. Though Florida has struggled with substance misuse crises for years the pandemic only exacerbated these effects. Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported a total of 1,491 overdoses in 2020 which was a 71% increase from 2019.
Isolation, job loss, eviction, and other stressors caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic have pushed people to rely on alcohol misuse and other substances for coping. As a result, both alcohol and drug use are up.
Florida Second In Nation For Overdose Deaths
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States in 2020 – the highest number of overdose deaths the country has ever recorded.
Of these numbers, 7,579 people died from a drug overdose in Florida, making Florida number two in the nation for overdose deaths behind only California. This number is a 37% increase from 2019.
Florida Addiction Statistics
Florida saw a huge spike in drug overdoses over the last year according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). The combination of the stress of health, unemployment, and the opioid crisis contributed to an extreme increase in substance use. Pinellas County’s Opioid Task Force shared that opioid drug deaths increased by 35% in 2020 while Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported a total of 1,491 overdoses in 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic also hit as fentanyl, an extremely powerful synthetic opioid, became more widespread. According to CDC data, fentanyl was present in over 3,200 of Florida’s 5,000 overdose deaths. And the greater Tampa Bay area has been hit hardest by the crisis, where 1,200 Tampa Bay residents died from synthetic opioids usage according to Project Opioid.
Opioid painkillers have led to an increase in fentanyl deaths in Pinellas County by more than 52% between 2019 and 2020. While many people dying from fentanyl have an opioid use disorder, many drugs like cocaine, Percocet, Oxycontin, and Xanax are cut with the addictive drug. These people may be overdosing without even knowing they are taking fentanyl.
It’s recommended that one of the best ways to fight the opioid epidemic is to promote policies that reduce the chances of people abusing or overdosing on drugs.
Florida's Decade of Prescription Drug Abuse
In 2011, a National Public Radio report stated that Florida was, at the time, the center of America’s prescription drug abuse epidemic, and opioids were the leading concern.
Since these reports, Florida has taken numerous steps to improve its struggle with opioid abuse. Governor Rick Scott for example signed a piece of legislation directly aimed at preventing people with prescription painkillers or opioid prescriptions from developing an addiction to these substances in 2018.
Unfortunately, despite these efforts, Florida still faces a battle against prescription drug abuse and opioid deaths – and according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Medical Examiners Commission report for 2016, opioids and benzodiazepines were the two most commonly found prescription drugs in overdose deaths. Illicit fentanyl deaths collectively led to over 4,000 death in 2016.
Florida's Opioid Epidemic
Opioid addiction is a serious problem in America. Over half of people who need help for this dependency do not receive it. There are many reasons for this.
Opioids are highly addictive illegal drugs used to treat severe pain. Prescription opioids are the most commonly abused type of opioid. Most people who take opioids for an extended amount of time become dependent upon and addicted to them.
Florida’s opioid overdose death rate has tripled since the year 2000 and the number of accidental drug overdose deaths more than doubled between 2014 – 2016.
Florida passed two significant laws to combat the opioid epidemic: the Prescription Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (PDAMP) and the Pill Mill Law. Florida also developed an enhanced state surveillance system in 2016 to address the rise in opioid overdose deaths. Despite this, the number of drug overdose deaths continues to rise, especially in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Alcohol Abuse Statistics in Florida
It’s estimated that, on average, 95,000 deaths were attributable to excessive alcohol from 2011-2015, and in Florida, alcoholism is a major issue. Almost half of the people living in Florida suffer from alcohol dependency. A 2019 study found that 18% of adults in Florida engaged in heavy or binge drinking that year.
Despite the high range of residents who drink, more than 24,000 people sought professional help for alcoholism between 2015 and 2016. Approximately 18% of those who sought treatment for alcohol use disorder were individuals between the ages of 18 and 25.
The CDC reports that cases of alcohol poisoning in Florida are higher than in most other states in America. A National Survey on Drug Use and Health considered Florida to be the 29th ‘drunkest state’.
Addiction Treatment in Florida
Drug Addiction continues to be a major issue in Florida and opioid drugs continue to be at the center of this fight. Synthetic opioids are among the most dangerous and can even be present in illegal drugs that people abuse – and overdose from – unknowingly.
Medical detox centers are essential for those who want to get clean. These facilities allow patients to stay in one place where they won’t be exposed to drugs or alcohol. This helps significantly in the recovery process and allows patients to avoid relapsing into substance abuse. Medical treatment is also available at these facilities.
Finding the right rehab center in Florida can be challenging. From medical detoxification to residential/inpatient treatment to outpatient services and aftercare it’s important to find what journey will work best for you. To learn more about all the different levels of care, contact Riverside Recovery of Tampa’s admissions team today.