Prescription Drug Abuse in Florida
By Jenny Hunt, Palm Partners Recovery Center
March 5, 2012
Every day, seven people die as a result of prescription drug abuse in Florida. Prescription drug related deaths now outpace deaths from automobile accidents. Government agencies are now trying to crack down on prescription drug abuse in Florida in order to contain this epidemic.
The rise in prescription drug abuse in Florida can be attributed to many different factors. The use and abuse of prescription drugs is viewed differently by most people than abuse of the so-called “street drugs.” It is more socially acceptable to take prescription opioid medications than, say, heroin. It is thought that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs because their manufacture is regulated. Also, there is a false sense of safety because a doctor prescribes these medications. Many also mistakenly think that prescription drug abuse is not illegal, or carries a less severe penalty than abuse of street drugs.
Prescription drug abuse in Florida has also increased due to the way that many doctors now view and treat chronic pain. Twenty-five years ago, doctors did not prescribe opioid pain medication for non-malignant chronic pain out of fear of addiction. These medications were reserved for those suffering from cancer or other terminal diseases. In the 90’s, a shift occurred in the medical community and the focus turned to improving patient quality of life. Prescription drug manufacturers spent millions on marketing and developing new drugs to treat pain. With these prescription drugs flooding the market, prescription drug abuse in Florida began to increase exponentially.
With the advent of the pill mill, prescription drug abuse in Florida was upgraded from problem to epidemic. These offices employed physicians who would treat patients on a cash-only basis and prescribe copious amounts of pain medication without clear medical need. Drug seeking individuals from other southern states began to travel en masse to Florida to get these prescriptions. Many of them would then sell the pills on the streets of their home states for up to forty times what they paid.
Officials in Florida have been cracking down on physicians prescribing inappropriately in an attempt to get a handle on prescription drug abuse in Florida. Legislation has been enacted that prevents physician’s offices from dispense prescription drugs themselves. Additionally, the Florida Statewide Drug Enforcement Strike Force began targeting pill mills in the state, seizing more than 252,000 prescription pills since March. However, because these investigations can be difficult and time-consuming, prescription drug abuse in Florida is still a major problem.
The other problem with the crackdown on prescription drug abuse in Florida is that now that so many pill mills have been closed, Florida law enforcement has seen a significant increase in import and sales of street drugs. Also, there has been a huge spike in armed robberies of pharmacies and drug cargo heists.
There isn’t enough being done for those who have become addicted as a result of prescription drug abuse in Florida. Because these are highly addictive medications, an addicted individual doesn’t just quit when he no longer has access to the pills through a doctor’s office. When their primary source of drugs is unavailable, prescription drug abusers are forced to go elsewhere to fuel their habit.
If you or someone you know needs treatment for prescription drug abuse in Florida, call us at (877) 711-HOPE (4673) or visit us online at www.palmpartners.com.