Heroin and Fentanyl Overdoses on the Rise in the Miami, Florida Area
Since 2013, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida has seen the number of overdoses from both fentanyl and heroin explode. Medical professionals and local officials in the Miami area are searching for ways to help get heroin users into treatment rather than serving jail time. In fact, this effort has caught on nationwide.
A partnership is currently forming between the South Florida Behavioral Network, University of Miami Health System, Jackson Health and Miami-Dade Circuit Court system. Collectively, they are seeking nearly $1 million in funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and another $400K from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The money will be used to provide treatment for between 50 and 80 patients each year for three years and is already enrolling clients. A combination of counseling and medication management will be used to treat each patient after detoxification has been completed.
The fentanyl epidemic is becoming a tougher fight in South Florida with each passing year. According to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office, 130 people have died from overdosing on Fentanyl as of August 2016. Law enforcement officials estimate that there was a major shift from the abuse of prescription drugs to heroin several years ago. Since traffickers have now discovered how to manufacture fentanyl cheaper than heroin, many people are mistakenly purchasing fentanyl instead.
By Dr. David Ockman, PsyD, CAP, Lifeskills South Florida Addiction Psychologist
Public officials and families have been stunned by Fentanyl, the most recent addiction epidemic. Fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic drug and most commonly paired with heroin, has caused an increase in overdoses by 20% in 2016 and the crisis is growing. Narcan, the antidote used to reverse the deadly effects of these substances, has been used at an astounding rate by paramedics. For one South Florida city, the amount spent on Narcan for emergency use skyrocketed from $43,000 to $155,000 in one year, signifying the debilitating and widespread effects that individuals, families and the community are experiencing.
Many communities are recognizing the intense need for treatment of this specific addiction. It has been repeatedly reported that communities should divert people arrested for their involvement in the use of this dangerous substance toward treatment programs. It is imperative to ensure that chemical dependency experts and treatment professionals are providing the most “up to date“ care and support for the stabilization through the recovery process. Lifeskills South Florida has been ahead of the curve providing treatment specified for the opiate and fentanyl addicted person. Since there is a physical and psychological withdrawal process from these narcotics, it is important to ensure that post acute withdrawal symptoms, cravings and urges are managed and addressed medically and therapeutically. Dr. Bober at Lifeskills South Florida is an expert in psychopharmacology and provides the most effective medication assisted therapy, which has been found to be key in preventing relapse for these specific patients.
It is most recommended that a full continuum of care be implemented for this specific addiction to include initial detox, rehabilitation, residential treatment, psychological counseling and long term recovery. Without this full spectrum of care it has been noted that patients repeatedly return only days later with another overdose. In a Miami Herald article, a hospital CEO stated, “…even though we provide inpatient detox…there aren’t enough beds for residential…we need to make sure we are treating it as the whole scope of care.” Once a patient has completed their detox completing the full continuum of care in a healing setting is necessary and possible at Lifeskills South Florida where psychological best practices and recovery support are the priority.
Opiates and Fentanyl took the lives of 180 victims in Miami-Dade alone in 2016 and the numbers are growing. Unfortunately, there will be scores of patients struggling with heroin that won’t be able to receive treatment through this proposed program. Therefore, addicts and their families will need to be vigilant in making sure that they get access to the drug treatment program that best fits their needs.
If you or a loved one is suffering from this addiction, please call the Lifeskills South Florida admissions office at 844-749-1560 to learn what you can do to make the most important life change there is. LifeSkills South Florida is one of the leading dual diagnosis treatment providers in the Fort Lauderdale area. We offer treatment in both a residential and outpatient setting. Our treatment programs are designed to give our client the self-reliance and self-monitoring skills needed to make a strong and lasting recovery from addiction and other co-occurring disorders. We currently offer clinical tracks for trauma/post-traumatic stress disorder, dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive remediation and addiction.