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Fentanyl in Florida Crisis

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 21, 2024

Table of Contents

Last year, while the nation grappled with a record number of drug overdose fatalities, largely fueled by the fentanyl crisis, Florida emerged as an exception to this troubling trend. In America’s third-largest state by population, overdose deaths experienced a decline in 2022, offering at least a glimmer of hope in the ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic’s destructive impact.

Why Is Fentanyl a Problem in Florida?

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is much stronger than heroin or morphine, contributing to its deadly effects. Just a few grains of fentanyl can be lethal. The drug is frequently combined with other substances, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, often without the person’s knowledge.

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After prescription and heroin ignited the U.S. opioid epidemic, a sharp increase in fentanyl overdoses in 2013 marked the third wave of the crisis. The fourth wave began in 2019 with mixtures of fentanyl and stimulants.

So, not only is fentanyl in Florida problematic due to its risk of life-threatening overdose in minuscule amounts, but also for the way in which is it being used to adulterate other drugs. Even if someone does not die from fentanyl overdose, it’s possible to become rapidly addicted to the drug.

Fentanyl Deaths in Florida

The toll of fentanyl deaths Florida has surged dramatically since 2014, with fatalities surpassing 1,000 in 2016 and then doubling by 2018. In 2019, 2058 residents of Florida died of a fentanyl overdose, escalating to 5,302 in 2020. The peak of this crisis came in 2021, with 5,791 deaths recorded, before a slight decrease of about 3% in 2022 brought the number of fentanyl overdose Florida down to 5,622.

In two decades, then, Florida has seen fentanyl-related deaths skyrocket by over 4,000%, mirroring the crisis unfolding nationwide. In response to this growing threat, DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) issued a national alert in 2015, highlighting fentanyl as a pressing risk to health and public safety.

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Combatting Fentanyl Overdose in Florida

Florida has taken proactive measures to combat the surge in fentanyl overdoses, implementing a broad-based strategy that involves law enforcement, public health initiatives, and community outreach. These efforts aim to reduce the incidence of overdose and provide support for those struggling with addiction. Here’s an overview of the key components of Florida’s approach to tackling this crisis:

  • Enhanced law enforcement: Florida has intensified its crackdown on the illegal distribution of fentanyl, targeting both the supply chains bringing the drug into the state and the dealers distributing it on the streets. This includes partnerships with federal agencies to dismantle trafficking networks and the use of advanced technology to trace the origins of illicit fentanyl.
  • Naloxone distribution: Recognizing the life-saving potential of naloxone (Narcan), an opioid overdose reversal medication, Florida has expanded access to this life-saving drug. First responders, community organizations, and even individuals can now obtain naloxone without a prescription, ensuring that it’s readily available in emergency situations.
  • Public education campaigns: The state has launched educational campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and the signs of overdose. These campaigns aim to inform the public about how to respond to an overdose and encourage those struggling with addictions to seek help.
  • PDMPs (prescription drug monitoring programs): Florida’s PDMP helps healthcare providers identify patients at risk of developing opioid use disorders. By monitoring prescription drug dispensing, the program aims to prevent doctor shopping and reduce the availability of prescription opioids for illicit use.
  • Treatment and recovery services: Expanding access to addiction treatment and recovery services is a cornerstone of Florida’s strategy. This includes increasing funding for treatment centers, supporting MAT (medication-assisted treatment), and developing community-based recovery programs.
  • Strengthening community connections: The state is promoting collaboration between healthcare providers, law enforcement, and community organizations to create a unified front against the opioid epidemic. By working together, these groups can share resources, information, and support to more effectively address the crisis.

Combatting fentanyl overdose in Florida requires a continuous, concerted effort from all sectors of society. While the challenge is enormous and ongoing, the state’s comprehensive approach offers hope for reducing the impact of this deadly drug and saving lives.

Resources to Get Help with Fentanyl Addiction

For individuals and families grappling with fentanyl addictions, many resources offer help and hope. Here are some avenues to explore for assistance with fentanyl addiction:

  • National helplines: SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) provides a national helpline (1-800-662-HELP) offering free, confidential information and treatment referral 24/7. This service can guide individuals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
  • Local treatment centers: Many communities have treatment centers specializing in opioid addiction, including fentanyl. These facilities offer detoxification services, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, counseling, and long-term recovery planning.
  • Online support groups: Digital platforms and social media groups can provide peer support and valuable information from others who have faced similar struggles. Websites like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) offer virtual meetings and resources to help individuals in recovery.
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment): MAT combines FDA-approved medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat opioid use disorders. Medications like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone can help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.
  • Mental health professionals: Psychologists, psychiatrists, and licensed counselors trained in addiction therapy can offer individualized treatment plans that address both the physical and psychological aspects of fentanyl addiction.
  • Educational resources: Organizations such as CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) provide extensive information on the risks of fentanyl and strategies for prevention and treatment.
  • Community outreach programs: Local health departments and community organizations often host events, workshops, and seminars on substance abuse prevention, offering resources and support for those affected by opioid addiction.
  • EAPs (employee assistance programs): If you’re employed, your workplace may offer an EAP that provides confidential assessments, counseling, and referrals to treatment services for substance use disorders.
  • Legal assistance: For those facing legal consequences related to drug use, some organizations offer legal advice and representation focused on alternatives to incarceration, such as drug courts and treatment programs.

These resources represent a starting point for those seeking help with fentanyl addiction. By reaching out, individuals can take the first step toward recovery and reclaiming control over their lives.

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Get Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

Choose effective Florida fentanyl addiction treatment at Renaissance Recovery and receive help from detox to discharge and beyond.

Supervised detoxification streamlines the fentanyl withdrawal process, enabling individuals to overcome physical dependence under controlled conditions. FDA-approved medications reduce the severity of opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, while continuous care mitigates the risk of complications or relapse.

During ongoing outpatient treatment at our Florida treatment center, you can access a personalized blend of the following interventions:

For immediate assistance addressing fentanyl addiction in Florida, call 866.330.9449.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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