There has been a surge in heroin overdoses in Delray Beach and local police are appealing to the public for information in an effort to understand what is happening. Since Dec. 1, the Delray Beach Police Department has “handled in excess of 20 cases” of heroin overdoses, the agency announced in a press release issued Monday afternoon.
The overdose cases are being investigated by the Vice, Intelligence and Narcotics Unit, while detectives are working alongside the Sheriff’s Office drug lab in testing the seized narcotics.
“We have seen a significant increase in the amount of heroin overdoses this month,” said Delray Beach police acting public information officer Rachel Vanness, and added that this spike in overdoses “speaks for itself, there’s something not right.”
Of the twenty or so heroin-related overdoses, one has been fatal, however police are still awaiting toxicology reports in order to confirm this.
Although it hasn’t yet been confirmed, speculation as to what is causing this potentially fatal potency. Local addicts are saying that this bad batch of heroin is cut with fentanyl – a highly potent prescription narcotic painkiller used for managing pain. Both heroin and fentanyl are opiates so, by using this combination, the user gets a double dose of narcotic, which suppresses bodily functions including breathing. This is when overdose occurs.
Florida’s Pill Mills
A few short years ago, the news was splashed with reports of mass raids on pain management clinics, doctors, and pharmacies that were illegally dispensing prescription drugs and at an alarming rate – dubbed “pill mills.”
Over the course of two years, federal agents shut down the $40 million businesses that operated in the south Florida counties of Broward and Palm Beach. Federal DEA agents used collected evidence via phone taps and even by posing as patients, which allowed them to put together 1.2 million pages of records and statements used in the prosecution of several suspects.
Florida’s successful crackdown of its so-called pill mills had an unintended consequence, however, as the state has seen an increase in heroin use.
A New Epidemic: Resurgence of Heroin
A major unintended effect of Florida’s crackdown on its pill mills has been an increase in the use of heroin. As the number of pill suppliers decreased and pills were harder and more expensive to obtain, people who were addicted to narcotic painkillers began turning to heroin, because the ‘high’ is similar to that of painkillers and because it became easier and cheaper to get ahold of.
Why Delray Beach?
South Florida is known as the “recovery capital” with the Delray Beach area as its epicenter. This is because of the saturation of drug treatment programs, halfway houses, and meeting places. And with addiction recovery can also come relapse. Savvy drug dealers target this area because it’s simply good business strategy. With so many addicts in one place, the area is prime real estate for dealers.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.