Amy Pavuk of the Orlando Sentinel recently reported that while oxycodone has for years been the prescription drug most abused in Florida, a major crackdown by law enforcement, as well as legislation and other factors, has caused a significant reduction in the availability of oxycodone in Florida. As a result, abusers are using other drugs, including hydromorphine. An increasing number of pharmacy hold-ups and similar incidents have law enforcement officials saying that if addicts cannot get oxycodone, they are using other drugs, a finding also recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. More people are using heroin, and there has also been an increase in the use of hydromorphine and fentanyl, a painkiller even more potent.
Recent data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicated that 81 percent of people who started using heroin from 2008 to 2010 had previously abused prescription drugs, and this forced change to unfamiliar drugs could lead to accidental overdoses.
While Central Florida law enforcers say they aren’t seeing a shift to heroin as the preferred drug, it doesn’t mean people stopped abusing drugs. According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Danny Banks, “When the drugs they are addicted to become less available, they are going to need to find some other type of drug to fuel their addiction.”
Phoenix Houses of Florida is poised to take a leadership role in providing the help people need to reclaim their lives from substance abuse. Phoenix Houses of Florida’s Derek Jeter Center in Tampa provides care for teens abusing substances and Phoenix House’s Citra Center provides residential substance abuse treatment for men and women.