Someone in Florida dies every two hours from an opioid overdose. That’s 12 Floridians dying and 12 Florida families losing a loved one EVERY DAY — from something that could have been prevented.
And this drug overdose problem is not getting better.
With 2.56% of all deaths here caused by drug overdoses, Florida is suffering from a drug overdose death rate 23.2% higher than the national average. Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 30, and you should use the occasion to rid your home of unneeded prescription drugs by taking them to an authorized collection site.
Otherwise, this could result in your teenager or other family member overdosing.
How many of us have a few oxycodone pills, or other highly addictive and dangerous drugs, leftover from a long ago surgery? Even though they aren’t current, these medications have the potential to be misused by a loved one, which in turn can lead to addiction or, much worse, death.
Obviously, prescription drugs play an important role in medical and behavioral health when safely used in accordance with a doctor’s orders.
However, when abused they can be deadly. In fact, across the United States, 40 people die each day from overdosing on prescribed narcotic medications.
Making the challenge even greater is how illicit drug use has increased recently. Along with skyrocketing overdose rates, a new drug known as Isotonitazene — 20 to 100 times stronger than fentanyl — has made its way to Florida. The drug, often referred to as ISO, has already been linked to more than 40 deaths nationwide in 2021, two of them in Pasco County.
This past Spring Break, Tampa also saw several deaths from young adults from fentanyl-laced drugs. Drugs like cocaine alone are dangerous, but with the introduction of ISO and fentanyl-laced drugs, the danger and possibility of an overdose increases exponentially.
All Floridians have the potential to protect themselves and their families — not just those who can afford it. Those without insurance or the means to pay can still receive substance use disorder treatment, thanks to the behavioral health providers overseen by Florida’s seven Managing Entities.
The seven local Managing Entities work with a network of over 300 behavioral health care providers who deliver services to over 300,000 of Florida’s most vulnerable residents — including children, expectant mothers, veterans, and the chronically homeless.
The Managing Entities ensure that quality care is given to individuals who desperately need it.
I encourage everyone to participate in Prescription Drug Take Back Day by safely discarding your unneeded prescription medications. This seemingly small move could save a life.
Find a nearby location here dea.gov/takebackday.
Natalie Kelly is CEO of the Florida Association of Managing Entities.