Miami, Florida, is known for its nightlife and sun-drenched beaches. As with the rest of the country, it has struggled with public health concerns related to substance use disorders and addiction.
The opioid crisis of the past decade has significantly impacted the city. Its major seaports and large population are attractive to the individuals and organizations behind the illicit drug trade. However, Florida is also a hot spot for addiction treatment and innovations in drug rehab.
Learn more about drug rehab in Miami and the scope of substance use disorders in Florida.
Miami is a huge coastal city and one of the largest cities in Florida. The city itself is home to nearly 400,000 people, and there are millions in the surrounding metropolitan areas. Miami’s precedence on Florida’s southeast coast makes it a significant hub for commerce and transportation.
South Florida’s abundance of shipping traffic and large suburban areas make it a significant target for the illicit drug trade. Drug trafficking from foreign sources gives Miami a high drug availability. Florida, as a whole, has a significant public health problem when it comes to substance use disorders.
According to the 2018 annual report from Florida’s Medical Examiners Commission, 12,008 deaths were investigated by medical examiners and found to involve common substances of abuse. There were 5,576 opioid-related deaths in the state in 2018. Of those, 2,703 involved the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opioid that’s powerful enough to kill the average adult in a dose as small as 2 mg (milligrams). Some drug dealers mix it with heroin and other drugs to increase its potency, often without the user’s knowledge. This has led to an increase in fatal overdoses.
Depressants were also widely used and found in overdose deaths. Alcohol is the most common substance of misuse in the country and in the state. It was present in 5,140 investigated deaths in 2018. Other depressants like prescription benzodiazepines are commonly misused for their alcohol-like intoxicating effects.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a little more than 7% of Floridians over age 12 have substance use disorders. This number is on par with the national average but slightly more than the regional average.
In Miami, alcohol is the most common substance of abuse. It was present in 18 percent of investigated deaths in the state in 2018. According to the National Drug Early Warning System, 19% of admissions to treatment centers with public funding in the Miami area involved alcoholism. Another 10% involved cocaine, and 13% involved heroin.
Cocaine is one of the most commonly abused illicit drugs in Florida. Cocaine was present in 363 deaths in Miami in 2018. It was the likely cause of death in 195 of those cases. Cocaine addiction and overdose reach epidemic levels in the 1980s and 90s, but today the drug has been overshadowed by opioids. Still, a rise in cocaine deaths may be related to polydrug use related to opioids.
Polydrug use refers to using multiple drugs at a time for unique effects. When it comes to mixing stimulants like cocaine and nervous system-depressing drugs like opioids, users seek to counteract some of the adverse effects of each drug. This can cause you to take higher doses, leading to an overdose.
Opioids are a significant problem in the United States and in Florida. Heroin is one of the most common illicit opioids in the United States. The body quickly breaks down heroin into morphine, which makes it harder to definitively identify by medical examiners. In 2018, heroin was found in 59 Miami deaths, but its metabolite morphine was found in 126 deaths. In many cases, fentanyl is mixed with other drugs, causing a fatal overdose. In Miami, fentanyl was found in 166 deaths. All but three of those involved a mixture with other drugs.
Prescription opioids are also misused, sometimes resulting in substance use disorder that led to the use of illicit drugs like heroin.
Benzodiazepines are also common. Benzos are prescription central nervous system depressants that medical professionals use to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Alprazolam, one of the most commonly abused depressants, was found in 173 deaths in Miami in 2018.
Addiction is a chronic disease that can be treated effectively, leading to long-lasting sobriety. There are many drug rehab options all over South Florida and Miami. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has outlined 13 principles of effective treatment. When you’re looking for drug rehab in Miami, it’s important to keep some of these factors in mind. Addiction treatment has been approached in a variety of ways throughout the last century. However, it’s important that your treatment center approaches addiction treatment as health care.
Treatment should also be personalized to your individual needs. There is no one-size-fits-all addiction treatment plan. Addiction can have a host of underlying causes and consequences that affect your medical, psychological, and social health. When you enter a treatment program, you should be able to sit down with your therapist to help create a tailored treatment plan for your needs.
Treatment should also be readily available when you need it. Ideally, you should be able to start treatment within a day or two of deciding to get treatment. There are multiple barriers to addiction treatment, including your own readiness to change, the negative stigma around seeking help, and financial concerns. Plus, powerful compulsions to use may cause someone to continue using after they decide to change. For that reason, treatment needs to be open to you as soon as you decide to go.
Effective treatment should also address multiple needs that are common to occur with substance use problems. Addiction can affect your health, finances, relationships, and legal standing. If any of these categories are ignored, complications could lead to a relapse in the future.
Drug rehab is a process that should attend to multiple needs that surround a substance use disorder. Addiction is a disease that affects the reward center of the brain, and treatment is considered healthcare. When you enter an addiction treatment program, you’ll go through an intake and assessment process with medical or clinical professionals. This process is intended to determine the level of care that’s appropriate for you and to access your medical and psychological needs.
If you’re likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms or medical complications that are caused by withdrawal, you may need a medically managed detox. Detox is the highest level of care in drug rehab, with 24 hours of treatment services each day. If you still have high-level needs after detox, you may go through inpatient treatment with medical monitoring.
Once you can live independently for your own safety, you may advance to outpatient treatment. If you have high-level needs, you may go through intensive outpatient treatment, which involves more than nine hours of treatment per week, or partial hospitalization, which requires more than 20 hours per week. If you don’t have high-level needs, you may move to outpatient treatment with fewer than nine hours of treatment per week.
American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
CDC. (2019, May 31). Fentanyl. from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/fentanyl.html
Medical examiners Commission. (2019, November). Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons by Florida Medical Examiners. from https://www.fdle.state.fl.us/MEC/Publications-and-Forms/Documents/Drugs-in-Deceased-Persons/2018-Interim-Drug-Report-FINAL.aspx
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Principles of Effective Treatment. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
NDEWS Coordinating Center. (2019, November). Southeastern Florida (Miami Area) Sentinel Community Site … from https://com-phhp-epi-ndews.sites.medinfo.ufl.edu/wordpress/files/2020/07/SCS-Report-2019-Southeastern-Florida-FINAL.pdf
SAMHSA. (2019). Behavioral Health Barometer: United States, Volume 5: CBHSQ Data. from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/behavioral-health-barometer-united-states-volume-5