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West Palm Beach

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West Palm Beach

When you think of the state of Florida, most imagine theme parks, beaches, golf courses and lakes. No one could ever imagine Florida being a state for drug trafficking, addiction and abuse. Yes, we do see this all over the country but there are states that have a predominantly higher rate of addiction than others and it all boils down to availability. The state of Florida actually has a complicated, rich history of drug addiction and abuse especially with the opioid epidemic upon us. 

One city in Florida that people would never mention addiction and abuse in conversation is West Palm Beach. Known for its world-class beaches, golf course and festivals is actually in a league of its own when it comes to drug addiction and abuse. Most travelers are enjoying the beaches and the links, however the more sinister side of West Palm Beach is running rampant with drug addiction and abuse. 

alcohol abuse and addiction

in West Palm Beach

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Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

Alcohol is a serious problem I West Palm Beach, FL. It’s known that over 13% of West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, FL are binge drinkers. This statistic has led to an increase in traffic related deaths. Between 2014 and 2015, this spike has led to a 58% increase in traffic deaths in Palm Beach County alone. The county has also seen an increase in criminal activity and homelessness due to alcoholism. 

The most recent trend of alcohol use by Palm Beach County youth is from the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS). It reported a 19.3 percent decline (or 42-% decrease) in current (past 30-day) use of alcohol among Palm Beach County high school students between 2006 (46.3%) and 2016 (27%) The FYSAS also reported a 10.6 percent decline (or 54-% decrease) in current use of alcohol among Palm Beach County middle school students between 2006 (19.8%) and 2016 (9.2%). The 2016 rates of current alcohol use among Palm Beach County students are slightly above the percentages for all Florida high school students at 25.4% and middle schoolers at 8.3%.

In 2016, it was reported that 4,024 persons ages 18 and older cited that alcohol was their primary drug to abuse when they entered into a Palm Beach County treatment program making up 38% of all adult patients. Males make up the majority of admissions at 61%. Young adults 18-25 accounted for 8%, 26-34 years of age represented 26% and ages 35 and over involved 66%.

The Epicenter Effect

West Palm Beach has become known as the epicenter of the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis is terrorizing the state with epic proportions in 2016 having the largest number of heroin related overdose deaths for two consecutive years. This crisis is driven by a deadly synthetic painkiller called fentanyl that is said to be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Illicit fentanyl is manufactured in Mexico with Chinese chemicals turning a growing crisis deadly. The opioid crisis is so debilitating, President Trump had to act calling a national emergency while communities debate on whether to ration alternate drugs like Narcan which is used to revive overdose victims back to life. 

“This emerging opioid crisis, there is no end in sight,” said Bruce Goldberger, director of health forensic medicine at the University of Florida. “We are the epicenter for certainly fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and heroin overdoses,” said Dr. Michael Bell, Palm Beach County’s medical examiner.

Here we show why West Palm Beach and the state of Florida is considered the epicenter, let’s take a look; there were 5.725 opioid-related deaths last year, a 35% increase from 2015. This breaks down to 15 opioid -related deaths per day in 2016. Analysis also shows heroin-related overdose deaths increased by 62%. Fentanyl-related deaths increased a whopping 97%. The alarming fact here is the use of fentanyl analog, carfentanil, originally developed to tranquilize elephants and not intended for human consumption. 

2,000 residents died from an opioid overdose in 2017
83 percent of confirmed opioid overdoses recorded involved the drug fentanyl

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The Ambiguous Cure

Drug and alcohol addiction is misinterpreted due to the lack of education. Some people think you can just stop but that’s so far from the truth. Alcohol and drug addiction is a lifelong disease and for many it’s a daily fight forever. The process to overcome and slow down the disease can be more painful to heal than any broken bone or other diseases. There’s no plan of action or definitive process. Treatment and rehab is seriously a day to day process. The feeling of hopelessness or that you’re too far gone is common. 

The first step is the hardest and that’s acknowledging that you have a problem. The next step is actually getting help and accepting your disease. These steps are different for everyone. This disease does not discriminate and can affect people of all ages, races, ethnicities, etc. Once the patient has accomplished the first steps, they’re usually admitted into a treatment or rehab facility. Once accepted, a compassionate counselor will immediately put you at ease. The patient is asked a series of questions about their drug or alcohol addiction history followed by a medical and mental health evaluation. 

Detox comes with some frightening stories, but that’s because these people typically try to navigate the process alone. The facility will help the patient manage detoxification through medications and counseling. Detoxification is an emotionally draining process but that’s what counselors are there for. 

Choosing a facility doesn’t have to be complicated. West Palm Beach has numerous facilities for all people. In order to be successful, patients should choose a facility they feel comfortable in and trust. Patients are encouraged to ask their doctor or even close friends and family to assist them with finding the right facility. The most important factor is not only choosing a facility but showing up and asking for help. 




Massachusetts Statistics

current boston, MA opioid statistics as of 2019

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