Lifeskills Mental Health Blog

Opioid Addiction Crisis continues to strike Florida

Opioid Addiction Crisis continues to strike Florida

As part of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) did their part to help reduce the opioid crisis. The DEA joined with more than 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners to dispose of over 912,305 pounds of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs at 5,300 collection sites. Now in its eighth year, the event has allowed the DEA to collect over 4,508 tons of prescription drugs.

The event continues to help remove the significantly high amounts of opioids from homes where they can be stolen and abused by family members. The National Prescription Take Back Day came just days after President Trump declared a Nationwide Public Health Emergency in response to the opioid crisis. Acting DEA Administrator, Robert Patterson says, “More people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of opioid prescription drugs than any other substance. The abuse of these prescription drugs has fueled the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has led to the highest rate of overdose deaths this country has ever seen.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that there are over 64,000 deaths each year due to drug abuse, a number that continues to rise. Of those deaths in 2016, the most significant increase was related to fentanyl and synthetic opioids with over 20,000 overdose deaths.

Overdose Deaths Infographic

In Florida, the opioid crisis continues to take a toll, killing on average 14 people a day. “The root of the opioid epidemic can be traced in large part to the greed and irresponsibility of some big pharma. Specifically, the mass proliferation of prescription opioids for conditions that they were never intended for. As the street price of these drugs has risen the pendulum has swung the other way, and people have turned to heroin, a cheap and quick high,” says Dr. Daniel Bober, Medical Director at Lifeskills South Florida.

Over the past few years, Florida lawmakers have begun to crack down on opioid abuse.

  • Law enforcement used drug-trafficking laws to jail doctors who over-prescribed opioids, and there is now required tracking of painkiller prescriptions.
  • In May of 2017, Governor Rick Scott formally declared a public health crisis, and in June signed into a law a bill that would carry a three-year minimum sentence for people caught with four or more grams of fentanyl.
  • A bill passed in early 2017, requires doctors to log prescriptions in a statewide database by the end of the next business day, making it harder for people to get prescriptions from multiple doctors.
  • $10.5 million has been set aside for medications to help reduce opioid dependency.

Despite these efforts, lawmakers are lobbying for additional treatment for opioid addiction. Florida’s strained mental health care system has a shortage of qualified treatment centers and professional care providers. Hospitals now have a standard for preventing accidental overdose but are not required to refer individuals to long-term treatment. Also complicating the treatment issue, few Florida counties have facilities that can take clients under the Florida Marchman Act, which allows for involuntary commitment for substance abuse treatment. While some unscrupulous treatment centers have taken advantage of those suffering from addiction, there are others that provide quality, ethical care. Lifeskills South Florida is one of the most distinguished addiction treatment centers in South Florida offering residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and transitional living accommodations for those suffering from addiction and mental health disorders. Through a comprehensive clinical program, our nationally certified and licensed clinicians use five distinct tracks, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Chemical Dependency, Trauma/PTSD, and Cognitive Remediation to provide the best treatment intervention to support recovery.

“Although the average stay at Lifeskills is 3-4 months, we don’t put a timetable on recovery, allowing us to achieve a more positive outcome,” says Klay Weaver, Lifeskills CEO. “Each client’s length of stay depends on their needs, the complexity of their disorder, and the rate at which they progress through treatment. We challenge each of our clients to move toward reintegration into normal daily functioning and to achieve their personal treatment goals. Lifeskills goes above and beyond to empower individuals during their recovery.”

At Lifeskills, we understand the severity of opioid addiction and know individuals are drawn to South Florida by the promise of quality treatment. Lifeskills delivers on that promise through compassion and evidence-based treatment, and we equip our clients with the tools they need for sustained long-term recovery.


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