South Florida is a hot spot for the heroin and opioid epidemic currently impacting the entire nation. While drug use among teenagers has been trending slightly downward through the years, according to the annual Monitoring the Future Survey, deadly use of heroin and opioids has not followed suit in all populations. Researchers at Columbia University predict that drug-related overdose deaths could peak in 2017 before they decline slowly over several decades.
In South Florida, authorities reported at the end of 2016 that someone in the region overdosed on heroin or another opioid every two hours. The emergency calls for overdoses in some areas stretch emergency responders thin – in one case, a man was found face down outside of a department store, and the local first responders couldn’t attend to the matter because they were all out on other calls. Those calls included at least two other suspected heroin overdoses. In that case, a nearby station responded to the call, but the fact that the call rolled over is an indication of the frequency in which such calls occur.
An Opioid epidemic has been brewing for years
A high number of opioid-related deaths and overdoses isn’t something unexpected out of 2016. the Department of Health and Human Services reported that more people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2014 than ever before during a record-keeping year. About 60 percent of those deaths were related to opioid use.
In 2015, South Florida alone saw more than 4,800 drug overdoses, and more than 1,400 of those resulted in deaths. Numbers for 2016 climbed above the 2015 figures. In fact, in 2016 in a single county in South Florida, firefighters reported handling as many as 75 percent more opioid-related overdose cases than they did during the same time period in 2015.
Illicit drugs are especially dangerous
Greed drives some of the extra danger associated with illicit drugs, and could be contributing to the rise in overdoses. Heroin is commonly laced with other substances to make it more profitable for street dealers, for example, and those other substances can be deadly. One popular substance is black market fentanyl, which is often purchased online from sources in countries such as China. Fentanyl can be purchased for around $2,000 per kilogram, but pure heroin costs as much as $60,000 per kilogram. Mixing larger and larger portions of fentanyl into the product means dealers pocket more cash, but it also increases the percentage of heroin users who end up overdosing or experiencing severe health side effects.
Dealers of illegal drugs typically don’t care about the quality of the product and what it does to the user. Combining heroin with various substances and other drugs often means the potency of the dose is inconsistent, which leads to more accidental overdoses. If you’re using heroin, you might not even know what else is in the drug.
Overdoses can be treated, but not every time
Fire and rescue workers in South Florida often carry treatments for heroin and opioid overdose, and if they arrive in time, they do have a chance of saving someone’s life. Sadly, this isn’t always the case, and mixed drugs and unknown backgrounds make it difficult to know exactly how to approach every instance of overdose. It can be frustrating for medical workers and first responders, but it’s a life-threatening roll of the dice for anyone who is abusing opioids or heroin.
If you’re using heroin or other opioids, don’t wait until you’re rolling those dice to get help. You don’t have to end up in the emergency room to get off drugs; you can call us today to find out more about caring, compassionate rehab options. (844)211-7944