How Large Is The Opioid Problem In Florida?
With the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation, Florida is certainly not immune. And apparently, the problem is getting worse. According to a recent report from Florida's medical examiners, there has been a dramatic 22% increase (2,126 more deaths) of in drug-related deaths from the prior year. The report also showed a 35% increase in opioid-related deaths (1,483 over the previous year for a total of 5,725).
Not suprisingly, more deaths were caused by prescription drugs than illicit drugs, accounting for 61% of all drug occurrences in the report. After all, availability and a low perception of harm lead to increased use and abuse.
The drugs that caused the most deaths were cocaine, benzodiazepines, fentanyl, morphine, heroin, alcohol, oxycodone, methadone and methamphetamine.
“Clearly, those are shocking numbers and we have got to do something about it,” said Senate Health Policy Chairwoman Dana Young, R-Tampa to The News Service of Florida.
Here are additional highlights from the report:
- 6,658 (24 percent more) individuals died with one or more prescription drugs in their system. The drugs were identified as either the cause of death or merely present in the decedent. These drugs may have also been mixed with illicit drugs and/or alcohol.
- 3,550 (40 percent more) individuals died with at least one prescription drug in their system that was identified as the cause of death. These drugs may have been mixed with other prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and/or alcohol.
- The five most frequently occurring drugs found in decedents were ethyl alcohol (5,318), benzodiazepines (5,167, including 1,851 alprazolam occurrences), cocaine (2,882), cannabinoids (2,292), and morphine (2,040).
- Deaths caused by heroin increased by 30 percent; deaths caused by fentanyl increased by 97 percent; deaths caused by morphine increased by 49 percent;deaths caused by oxycodone also increased by 28 percent; deaths caused by buprenorphine increased; and deaths caused by cocaine increased by 83 percent.
- The highest numbers of deaths were in the 35 to 50 age group.
Informed Families is promoting the Lock Your Meds Campaign during the months of January and February to do our part to prevent prescription drug abuse. Join us.