Broward County Identified as Hotspot for Opioid-related Emergencies
The National Drug Early Warning System identified Broward County, Florida as a hotspot for opioid emergencies.1 The alert comes during a nationwide opioid epidemic. More than 103,000 people in the United States died from a drug overdose between April 2021 and April 2022, a number that has been steadily rising over the past 8 years and continues to affect more and more counties across the country.2
What is the Opioid Epidemic in America?
Opioids are a class of drugs developed to manage pain. In addition to pain relief, it can produce euphoria. Types of illegal or prescribed opioids include:3
- Oxycodone (OxyContin).
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin).
In the 1990s, healthcare providers began to prescribe opioids to patients at greater rates after pharmaceutical companies reassured them that they weren’t addictive.4
As it turns out, opioids are extremely addictive. Even when regularly used as instructed by a doctor, opioids can lead to dependence.3 As more doctors began prescribing the “safe” opioid medications, widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids ensued. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have died from opioid-related overdoses. 4
In Florida, over 7,990 people have died from an overdose in a 12-month period ending April 2022. It was over 100 more people since the previous year’s reported overdose deaths.2 As the number of drug-related deaths increases, it is even more important to know what to do in the event of an overdose.
What Should You Do if Someone is Overdosing on Opioids?
An opioid overdose is considered a life-threatening emergency. Signs of an overdose/overmedication can include:5
- Very pale face and skin may be clammy to the touch.
- Small “pinpoint” pupils.
- Lips of fingernails appear purple or blue.
- Vomiting or gurgling noises.
- Inability to speak or slurred speech.
- Unusual drowsiness or sleepiness.
- Inability to be awoken from sleep.
- Mental confusion and/or intoxicated behavior.
- Slow or stopped breathing.
- Slow or stopped heartbeat.
If you suspect someone is overdosing, call 911 immediately. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, can be administered to reverse opioid overdose. However, naloxone will not be effective in treating overdoses of other drugs like benzodiazepines, stimulants, or barbiturates.5
Opioid Rehab in South Florida
The opioid crisis has led to devastating consequences including “increases in opioid misuse and related overdoses, as well as the rising incidence of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy.”4
Although the future may seem grim, evidence-based treatment for opioids is widely available. Recovery First Treatment Center located in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area offers industry-accredited rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. With over 7,000 patients treated, Recovery First’s exceptional care provides patients with the tools they need to achieve long-term sobriety.
Whether you are reaching out for yourself or a loved one, recovery is possible. To learn more about how to start treatment, the types of rehab available, or how insurance coverage works, reach out to Recovery First’s team of compassionate admissions navigators available 24/7 at .