The Tampa Opioid Epidemic: A Growing Crisis

Since 2020, Florida — and especially Tampa Bay — has been suffering “the epidemic inside the pandemic.” The use of opioids has exploded.

Opioid Epidemic Facing Tampa Bay

In Tampa Bay, according to Project Opioid, someone is taken to the ER with an opioid overdose every two hours. And someone dies of an opioid overdose every eight hours.

The opioid epidemic in Florida began in the 1990s, and experts with the Florida Blue Foundation, the Tampa Bay Partnership, and Project Opioid say it has come in three waves.

In the 90s, the Tampa area was ground zero for pill mills in Florida, and Florida supplied most of the illegal opioids sold up and down the Atlantic Coast.

Then the State of Florida made it a lot harder to get a prescription for opioid pain-relieving drugs. This did reduce the use of opioids, but it triggered an epidemic of heroin use.

Finally, around 2015, synthetic opioids like Fentanyl and U-47700 became widely available and once again opioid addiction became Florida’s major public health problem.

How The Pandemic Has Impacted The Opioid Epidemic

Four times as many people died from an overdose in 2021 than in 2001. Fatal overdoses in Florida have had an actual increase of 43% and a projected increase of 59% since the COVID-19 Pandemic began.

In Florida, 77% of all deaths from opioid overdoses occur in the Tampa area. Opioid addiction has become widespread and deadly, especially since pandemic restrictions in 2020. Governor DeSantis suspended COVID restrictions in May 2021, but people who became dependent on opioids during the pandemic don’t magically lose their addictions now that they can get around more freely again.

According to the CDC, deaths from opioid abuse are completely preventable.

  • Refine the criteria for prescribing.
  • Offer patients alternatives to opioids.
  • Reduce the ease of getting opioid drugs without a prescription.
  • Treat opioid abuse disorder.

So, Why Isn't This Happening?

Twenty years into the opioid abuse epidemic, certain facts about opioid abuse still aren’t widely understood. Here are five of them.

People who are addicted to opioids aren’t necessarily abusing opioids.

It’s easy to blame the victim. To be sure, people who experiment with opioids no doctor has ever told them they need are a lot more likely to get addicted, but 75% of people who get addicted started with a prescription.

Getting Tough on Opioids Didn't Really Help

In 2018, the State of Florida implemented House Bill 21. This law limited the supply of opioids for acute pain, like the pain after a sprained back or the pain after a severe cut, to three days. The State of Florida decided that the way it would know the law was working was that fewer people were getting opioid treatment for pain.

People in pain bypassed the law by going back to the doctor for more. The average number of days a Floridian was on prescription pain pills from the same doctor stayed at four, but it was still possible to keep going to different doctors.

Opioid Overdose Rates for Tampa and Florida

In 2019, the death toll from opioid overdoses in Florida was 4,042 and 1,024 in the Tampa Bay area. 

The number of people who survived an opioid overdose was 9,571 in Tampa Bay and 35,927 in Florida.

Begin Recovery Now

Riverside Recovery of Tampa understands all of the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and is here to support you or your loved one. Contact us today for more information.

Floridians Face Racial Barriers in Getting Treatment

There has been a 330% increase in the number of Black Floridians dying of an opioid overdose. That’s despite the fact that five times as many white non-Hispanics, percentage-wise, are addicted to opioids than Black Floridians. Four times as many non-Hispanic whites are addicted as Hispanics, but Hispanics have experienced a 241% increase in death rates.

Overcoming the Opioid Epidemic

The problems of opioid addiction to society are huge. They will take a long time to heal. But individuals can overcome opioid addiction with the help of a skilled treatment center like Riverside Recovery of Tampa.

How does that work?

  • Step One: Detoxing and freeing the body of opioids. You or your loved one will need to get every trace of alcohol and/or drugs out of the system in safety and privacy. Our medically supervised detox program can accomplish this.
  • Step Two: Learning to live a life free from addiction. Riverside Recovery of Tampa provides you with a home to do this in a spa-like setting. This stage of treatment is typically provided through our Residential or Intensive Outpatient Program.
  • Step Three: Working towards sober living while gaining the confidence needed to meet life’s challenges without drugs can be difficult in the beginning. Riverside Recovery offers a day-night program for this phase. Patients go to their jobs and other obligations during the day but still spend their nights at the center.
  • Step Four: Accountability and Support. Patients check-in with Riverside Recovery’s team one to three times a week to stay on track. We offer therapy and counseling that fits seamlessly with patient schedules.

Seventy-five percent of the staff at Riverside Recovery of Tampa has gone through the recovery process. We have the experience needed to be empathetic and kind but have the toughness to help patients stay on track. Our team is here to guide you all the way through the recovery process. 

To get started or learn more about our treatment options, contact us today.