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Addressing the Florida Heroin Epidemic

Research data over the last decade continues to show an increase in opioid addiction rates nationwide. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, data from 2018 showed that 128 people in the United States died after overdosing on opioids. Misuse and addiction to opioids have continued to grow as the medical community attempts to reduce the number of prescriptions for prescription pain medications. Many who struggle with addiction to these medications (including OxyContin and others) often turn to illicit drugs, including heroin, as a substitute. It is estimated that as many as 80% of those who have a heroin addiction first misused prescription opioids. 

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is a drug manufactured from morphine, a naturally occurring substance in opium poppy plants grown in Mexico and Columbia. It may either be a white or brown powder or a black, sticky substance also known as black tar heroin. Heroin also goes by several other names, including big H, Hell Dust, and Smack, among others. Heroin is taken into the body in several different ways. The powder can be combined with liquid and injected. It can also be snorted or sniffed or smoked. In some cases, heroin is mixed with another drug, crack cocaine. This is a process known as speedballing due to the differences in how each drug affects the body. 

Heroin is a potent drug that enters the brain quickly. Once there, it binds to the opioid receptors on cells located throughout the brain. These are the same cells used by prescription opioid drugs such as OxyContin. These receptors are specifically involved in communicating feelings of pleasure and pain as well as controlling essential body functions like heart rate, sleeping, and breathing. In the short-term, heroin users feel a “rush,” often described as a surge of pleasure and euphoric feelings. Long-term heroin use can result in several dangerous effects, including liver and kidney disease, lung complications, collapsed veins, reproductive disorders, and other similar conditions. Heroin is a drug that lends itself to tolerance, meaning eventually you must use more and more of it to continue achieving the same “high” experience early on. The need for increased doses is the primary reason heroin is frequently linked to overdose. 

Are Opioids and Heroin Being Abused in Florida?

In 2018, the office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (part of the Florida Department of Children and Families) released a report detailing the state of the opioid epidemic in Florida. Similar to national patterns, the state of Florida saw increases in the levels of opioid use throughout the state. In 2017, the rate of opioid deaths increased nearly 9%, and emergency rooms across Florida saw an 18% increase in the number of opioid-related emergency room visits (18% for overall opioids and 22% for heroin specific treatments). In 2017, over four-thousand deaths in Florida were linked to opioid overdose, and of those, 944 were explicitly connected to heroin. As the number of prescriptions written for prescription opioids has decreased (leading to a reduction in overdose and abuse of these drugs), the rate of abuse and overdose of heroin has increased significantly. Unfortunately, what has not necessarily improved, is the rate of people seeking treatment?

How Bayshore Retreat Is Fighting the Florida Heroin Epidemic

In 2018, nearly 47,000 people in the United States lost their lives to opioid-related overdose. A significant percentage of those can be attributed directly to heroin and other synthetic opioid drugs. At Bayshore Retreat, we understand the challenges you may face when starting your journey to sobriety and freedom from opioids or heroin. To ensure treatment is possible for all, we offer multiple treatment pathways and several treatment models designed to work with your unique addiction treatment needs. Addiction impacts everyone in different ways. At Bayshore Retreat, we will work with you to ensure your treatment plan addresses your addiction and any co-existing mental health treatment needs. Don’t let addiction steal another day. If you are ready for life after addiction, contact Bayshore Retreat today