Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Chevy Chase, Elvis Presley, Matthew Perry, Britney Spears, Heath Leger and Eminem to name a few, are celebrities who were addicted and/or died from the use of prescription medications for pain.
Broward County has seen an increase in the use of pain medication and resulting fatalities. Florida has become the prescription pain medication capital of the nation. From 2000 to 2010, opiate-related deaths by heroin and/or opiate medications in Florida increased from 869 to 3,986 (Source: Florida Medical Examiners Commission Reports, 2000-2010).
The Broward Addiction Recovery Center (BARC) has seen changes with our primary admitting diagnosis switching from alcohol (32.6 percent) to opiates (heroin/oxycodone 52.1 percent) abuse/addiction. These numbers are staggering.
Clients recovering from prescription pain medication face a long and difficult process. Young adults between 18-35 years old are the majority age group abusing these drugs. The addiction is powerful. These individuals experience a difficult recovery process and possible side-effects as these drugs may interfere with their human development process.
Fortunately, Broward County and the United Way Commission on Substance Abuse collaborated to create new county/city ordinances. Florida Governor Rick Scott’s legislation “cracked down” on the illegitimate pain clinics and other practices that were inappropriately prescribing and dispensing these dangerous drugs. These laws have helped the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Broward Sheriff’s Office track, monitor and close many of these clinics.
The battle is not over as many “clinics” find new ways to circumvent the laws. It is up to us to remain responsive and diligent to stop these dangerous drugs from entering our community and endangering our citizens.