Heroin deaths are rising in Florida after a crackdown on prescription drug abuse, according to a new report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In the state overall, heroin deaths rose 89 percent from 2011 to 2012. The jump was even worse in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where deaths rose 120 percent. Data is not yet available for 2013 but experts say the problem is likely to get worse before it improves.
Florida has been tackling its prescription pain pill abuse problem and cracking down on “pill mills” that dispense prescriptions at will to people with addiction. According to Reuters, the state once laid claim to 90 of the top 100 oxycodone-purchasing physicians in the nation and 53 of the top 100 pharmacies disturbing the pills. Florida cut down on the supply but failed to address the demand problem, so people began turning to heroin instead as a cheaper and more readily available alternative. James N. Hall, an epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University who authored the report, called this strategy “a fatal mistake.”
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