Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Palm Beach, Florida
The path to addiction recovery can appear daunting at first, but with the right mindset, treatment, and support, it is absolutely possible. Millions of people who have struggled with substance use disorders are currently living fulfilling lives in recovery. Read on to learn about substance abuse in the Palm Beach region and the resources nearby for addiction treatment.
With the right combination of treatment and therapy, Recovery First Treatment Center can help you work towards a life in recovery.
Substance Use Rates in the Palm Beach Area
According to the Palm Beach County, FL Sheriff’s Office, South Florida is one of the United States’ primary drug trafficking locations and principle thoroughfare for heroin and cocaine in the U.S. and Canada. South Florida is also a primary region for pharmaceutical drug diversion and domestic marijuana-growing operations.1
Home to 39 municipalities, including popular tourist destinations Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County’s South Florida location is a prime point of entry for drug traffickers from Mexico, the Bahamas, Latin American, and the Caribbean. Major interstate highways cross into and through the entire state of Florida, giving easy access to the rest of Florida—and the U.S.—to drug couriers.1
Palm Beach County is home to close to 1.5 million people. According to The Palm Beach County Health Needs Assessment data, 5.7% of the county’s residents reported using marijuana or hashish in the last 30 days.3 In 2021, according to data collected by FLHealthCharts, there were 602 fatal overdose deaths in Palm Beach County. In 2022, emergency medical services responded to over 5600 overdose calls and had to administer Naloxone to 1947 residents.
West Palm Beach, Florida, has a moderate population, with over 111,00 people living in the metro area. The average age is nearly 40.4 The population grows year over year, which makes having adequate addiction treatment facilities and staff very important.
In 2016—the last year data was available—according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), Palm Beach County reported 9.94% of respondents reported some illicit drug use (other than marijuana). Of those:
- 13.84% used marijuana in the past month.
- 2.55% reported using cocaine in the past month.
- .40% reported using heroin in the past month.
- .33% reported past month methamphetamine use.
- 4.48% reported misusing prescription pain relievers.
54.5% of Palm Beach County’s residents also said they had consumed alcohol in the past month, and of those, 23.64% were binge drinking episodes.
Palm Beach Drug Problems Facing Law Enforcement
Drug trends tend to wax and wane with the times as regulations are put into place and law enforcement operations make access for one particular drug more difficult. For example, prescription drug diversion became a bigger problem in the early 2000s.
Pain clinics sprung up all over Florida, and doctors were prescribing opioid narcotics without much regulation. Prescription overdose deaths in the state skyrocketed 61% from 2003-2009.6
Law enforcement and legislators took notice of the issue, put new regulations in place, and created task forces designed to stem the flow of prescription drug diversion and illegal distribution in 2010. All drug overdose deaths dropped 18% between 2010 and 2012.6
While prescription drug overdoses dropped, heroin overdoses spiked 67% in Palm Beach County from 2011 to 2013.3 Heroin may be a substitute for other opioids, such oxycodone and hydrocodone, which are both prescription opioids.
In the first half of 2018, heroin was found in the systems of 79 people who had passed away and was noted as the cause of death in 48 deaths.7 Fentanyl, which can be 100 times more potent than morphine and is highly addictive, was responsible for the deaths of 278 people in Palm Beach County in 2018.8
Most prescription opioid misuse, as well as heroin use, is intravenous —80% of those in treatment for prescription opioid addiction, and 90% of individuals treated for heroin addiction —which increases all potential health risks associated with drug use.3
While South Florida is considered to be the primary entry point for all South American heroin coming into the United States, 9 the biggest drug threat in Palm Beach today, according to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, is cocaine coming in from Mexico and South America.9
In 2019, cocaine was the second most commonly cited substance resulting in overdose deaths in Florida. In 2014 in West Palm Beach, the largest city in Palm Beach County, ranked third in the state of Florida, with 71 overdose fatalities involving the illicit drug.10
Marijuana is also locally grown in the more rural areas of Southeastern Florida, and hydroponic grow operations have expanded in recent years. Florida is now second only to California as a national producer of indoor-grown marijuana.9
More than half of the treatment admissions in Palm Beach County for primary marijuana abuse and dependency are for individuals under the age of 18.3
Substances Involved in Treatment Admissions
According to the 2016 NSDUH report, in Palm Beach County:
- Over 38,000 residents had an illicit substance use disorder.
- Almost 70,000 residents had an alcohol use disorder.
- Over 92,000 Palm Beach County residents had a diagnosed substance use disorder.
In Palm Beach County, 2015’s treatment admissions included:3
- 1,926 people entered alcohol treatment centers in West Palm Beach for alcohol problems.
- 1,225 people sought drug treatment centers in Palm Beach County for prescription opioid abuse.
- 1,105 people entered substance abuse treatment to overcome marijuana addiction.
- 571 people entered rehabs in Palm Beach County for heroin addiction.
- 143 people sought Palm Beach rehab programs to overcome benzodiazepine addiction.
- 295 people requested help from a Palm Beach rehab to overcome a cocaine addiction.
- 12 people entered a Palm Beach addiction center for methamphetamine addiction.
- 8 people requested treatment for MDMA abuse in Palm Beach County.
- 421 people sought drug treatment centers in Palm Beach County for other types of substance abuse treatment.
Of the 20.4 million people nationwide that were diagnosed with a substance use disorder in 2021, only 10.3% received treatment.11 In an effort to help people get the treatment they need for substance use disorders, Palm Beach County has a Drug Court Program, where “citizen defendants” can voluntarily enter into drug treatment programs in order to have potential felony or misdemeanor charges dropped.
What Drugs are Teens Using in South Florida?
The 2022 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS) lists percentages of self-reported substance use rates among teenagers in the state, ages 12-17. Just like the nationwide Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, FYSAS examines middle and high school grade levels. Palm Beach County had 782 students in grades 6-12 who participated in the survey.
The FYSAS survey found that the past 30-day prevalence of substance use for middle-school aged youth included:12
- 7.2% who consumed alcohol.
- 1.9% who participated in binge drinking.
- 4.9% who vaped.
- 4.3% who smoked or vaped marijuana.
- 2% who took over the counter medication.
- 5% who took any illicit drug except marijuana.
- 11.4% who drank alcohol or took any illicit drug.
Among high schoolers in the past 30 days (at the time of the survey):12
- 12% consumed alcohol.
- 7.5% participated in binge drinking.
- 9.7% vaped.
- 21% smoked or vaped marijuana.
- 3.6% took any illicit drug except marijuana.
- 19.7% consumed alcohol or took any illicit drug.
At both the middle and high school age, smoking cigarettes (0.3% and 0.9% respectively), taking prescription pain relievers (0.8% and 0.8% respectively), and taking depressants (0.6% and 1.8% respectively) was a statistically low number of youths in the survey.
One of the few drugs more popular than ever among adolescents in the U.S. is marijuana. The 2018 MTF found nearly 36% of 12th graders in the country have ever used marijuana ever. There was also a significant increase of daily marijuana use among 8th and 10th graders.13
Causes of Youth Drug and Alcohol Use
Addiction has a strong genetic component. However, certain risk factors make young people more like to experiment with drugs and alcohol, which can lead to dependence and addiction. These include:
- Family history of substance use and addiction.
- Parental substance use.
- Favorable or permissive parental attitudes toward drug or alcohol use.
- Peer influence.
- Dysfunction or abuse in the home.
- Sexual abuse.
- Rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity by family.
- Mental health issues (e.g., depression, anxiety).
Alarming Drug Trends in South Florida
Although any use or abuse of alcohol or drugs is worrisome, there are some substances that are posing unique, troublesome questions and concerns in South Florida.
Illicit drug labs around the world and within the state of Florida have produced massive quantities of the illegal stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine and MDMA (ecstasy) over the years.
Methamphetamine, meth for short, incidents in Palm Beach County have been escalating since 2011; however, numbers are still not as high as in other areas of the country, such as the Atlanta, Georgia, metro area.3
MDMA has often been considered a club drug, and in recent years, authorities have noticed a surge in a new version of ecstasy dubbed Molly on the streets. While often marketed as pure MDMA, Molly may actually contain multiple other substances, and even toxins and fillers, making it particularly dangerous.
Two South Florida crime labs tested seized Molly pills in 2012 and found that hundreds of them actually contained the dangerous stimulant methylone, often found in bath salts, instead of just the pure 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) as may have been advertised and expected.14
Another relatively new designer drug hitting the streets of South Florida is called flakka, $5 insanity, or gravel, which is actually Alpha-PVP, a synthetic cathinone like those found in bath salts. At $3-5 a hit this drug is fairly cheap, and may stay in an individual’s system for up to five days, causing paranoia, hallucinations, fever, and other dangerous psychoactive effects.15
In neighboring Broward County, between September 2014 and June 2015, there were 25 deaths attributed to flakka. In just the first four months of 2015, there were 10 exposure calls from residents of Palm Beach County to Florida’s Poison Information Center involving the drug alpha-PVP.3
In 2014, there was a 46% increase in crime lab cases involving synthetic cathinones, including alpha-PVP, throughout Southeast Florida from 2013. These drugs are often being added to e-cigarettes to be smoked, or vaped.3
Another synthetic drug trend that may also involve the use of e-cigarettes is that of synthetic cannabinoids. These drugs usually contain high and potent levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, and in 2014 there was a 57% increase in crime lab cases in Southeastern Florida regarding these designer drugs.3
Between 2014 and the first four months of 2015, there have been four calls in Palm Beach County to the Poison Information Center involving synthetic cannabinoids, which may include drugs like Budder, Spice, and K2.3
The website dontbeaguinneapig.com was set up by several local Palm Beach County organizations to help educate youth, families, and parents on the potential dangers of these and more synthetic drugs.
Heroin and Fentanyl Use in Palm Beach, Florida
The county of Palm Beach, which is home to several cities, including West Palm Beach, has been hit especially hard by the heroin addiction and the overdose epidemic that is ravaging Florida.
In 2020, there were 622 accidental drug overdoses in Palm Beach County. Of those, 568 involved one or more opioid drug. These include:
- 166 Fentanyl only overdose deaths.
- 50 Fentanyl and heroin overdose deaths.
- 32 Fentanyl and other opioid overdose deaths.
With so many people struggling with heroin addiction, illicit fentanyl abuse has become one of the leading causes of opioid overdose in the country, including in Florida. Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin or sold in place of heroin, so people who struggle with heroin addiction may accidentally purchase this drug. This leads to numerous overdose deaths because fentanyl is more potent than heroin, so people accidentally ingesting fentanyl take too much without even realizing it.
Prescription Painkiller Deaths in Palm Beach County
Four out of five people in the state who struggle with heroin addiction began by misusing prescription painkillers, like oxycodone, hydrocodone, or morphine. Overdose deaths from these drugs are high in West Palm Beach. In 2020, medical examiners found:19
- 68 deaths involving oxycodone.
- 4 overdose deaths from just oxycodone.
- 18 deaths involved hydrocodone.
Many prescription painkiller deaths involve older adults. Of the 68 overdose deaths in West Palm Beach involving oxycodone, none were under 18 years old while 21 were between ages 35 and 50, and 12 were people over the age of 50.19
Morphine Overdose Rates in Palm Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach also experienced shockingly high rates of morphine-related overdose deaths in 2020:20
- 103 deaths involved morphine.
- 85 were caused directly by morphine.
- 2 were caused by morphine alone, with no other drugs.
Of the 103 morphine overdose deaths, 30 were people 35 to 50 years old.20
Methadone Usage in West Palm Beach
Methadone is also abused in West Palm Beach, and it led to 10 overdose deaths in 2020; 15 of those were caused by methadone, and one involved just methadone with no other drugs present. This suggests that people who struggle with methadone misuse are likely to be polydrug users. Because methadone is being prescribed to low-income individuals to ease pain, many people who overdosed on methadone were older adults; five of the 15 who died were over the age of 50, and 8 were between 35 and 50 years old.20
Benzodiazepines Increase Overdose Death Risk
Benzodiazepine abuse and addiction have been called a shadow epidemic. These drugs are widely misused for non-medical reasons, but more often in combination with other drugs than alone.
Still, reports from medical examiners on overdose deaths in West Palm Beach have found that benzodiazepines play a large role in overdoses and poisoning deaths by themselves too. Between January and December 2020, there were 6017 deaths in Florida involving benzodiazepines. Of those, 1662 involved alprazolam (Xanax) statewide — with West Palm Beach accounting for 8% of that total.20
Alcohol Struggles in Palm Beach County
According to data collected by FLHealthCharts.org, in 2019, 15.9% of adults in Palm Beach County reported binge drinking. This is less than the state’s overall reported binge drinking (18%), but is still significant.
West Palm Beach’s Cocaine Problem
Cocaine is a surprisingly large problem in southern Florida, especially compared to the rest of the country. Police see it as one of the largest drug threats in South Florida, claiming most of the cocaine in the state comes from South America.9
In West Palm Beach specifically, 225 people died due to, in part, cocaine. A total of 8 deaths were attributed to cocaine only, while in 182 it was the cause, although other substances were present.20
Finding Addiction Treatment Around Palm Beach, FL
Local Palm Beach Rehab, Behavioral Health & Substance Use Disorder Services
Many of the services offered for mental health and substance use disorder treatment in Florida and within Palm Beach County are at least partially funded by the State of Florida or the county.39 Individuals may cover additional costs with health insurance coverage, private pay, or self-pay options and fundraising.
Some of the resources for behavioral health services for rehab in Palm Beach County include:
- Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition: provides education on substance abuse, prevention strategies, pill-drop locations, hotlines, and task forces dedicated to keeping the area drug-free.
- Palm Beach County (PBC) Counts: offers a web-based portal of information and resources regarding substance abuse in the area.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Palm Beach County: numerous resources, including treatment and recovery information, support groups, and educational programs for families and individuals battling mental illness in Palm Beach County.
- Mental Health Association (MHA) of Palm Beach County: nonprofit organization that focuses on community outreach, advocacy, and education, and provides information on treatment resources for mental illness.
- Florida Coalition Alliance (FCA): organization providing resources dedicated to preventing substance abuse and creating a drug-free community.
- DOH: can help with access to treatment providers, including free, low-cost, or state-funded options. One treatment provider is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) program, managed by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).
- Palm Beach County drug court: works with citizen-defendants on intensive rehabilitation for at least one year, with the potential to extend the program’s timeline if the defendant experiences problems along the way.
- Drug Abuse Foundation of Palm Beach County (DAFPBC): a nonprofit resource that helps people get all kinds of drug addiction treatment – from science-based prevention programs to withdrawal management services to both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs.
- The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office: provides prevention support, including education classes on Good Samaritan laws in the county and state.
Outside of state-funded or state-provided options for addiction, there are options for treatment in palm beach. Treatment for mental health and substance use disorder treatment may include prevention methods, crisis management, inpatient and outpatient treatment, and recovery and aftercare services.
Therapy, counseling, education, life skills training, parenting classes, medications, medical detox, transitional housing, and support groups may all be part of a comprehensive behavioral health program.
These programs may be either private or public in nature and can be funded in a variety of ways. Different facilities may have varying levels of care and available programs, and some may be more comprehensive than others.
At our inpatient rehab in Hollywood, FL, we offer effective evidence-based addiction-focused treatment for people struggling with substance use disorders. We offer a robust range of options, including medical detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient treatment.
For other drug treatment centers near or in Palm Beach County, you can use the Behavioral Services Locator tool on the SAMHSA website. SAMHSA only includes treatment providers that meet its qualifications in the state of Florida and within Palm Beach County.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) also operates the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) program, which is the state authority on public mental health and substance abuse treatment in Florida. There are many private organizations and programs serving Palm Beach County residents as well.
Couples Drug Rehab in West Palm Beach, FL
Having support during treatment is an important facet of the recovery process. If one or both partners in a relationship are struggling with drug or alcohol use, it can take a heavy toll on the relationship.
Family therapy (or couples therapy) can be incredibly beneficial to helping mend the fractures that addiction causes in the family unit. Further, when a couple gets help together they can buoy each other’s recovery efforts and help one another stay motivated.
Addiction Treatment for Older Adults
There is an increasing trend of older individuals needing treatment for substance misuse, dependency, and addiction. The baby boomer generation, those born between 1946 and 1964, includes 76 million people now reaching late middle age.23 This generation may have use mind-altering drugs at exponential rates during their youth, and they are now continuing or rediscovering these habits in their older age.
In 2013, accidental drug overdoses killed 12,000 baby boomers, and for the first time ever, overdose rates were higher among the older demographic than those in the 25-44 age bracket.31
These trends hold true in Florida and Palm Beach County as well. Almost 5,000 adults between the ages 51 and 60 in Florida were admitted to publicly funded treatment programs in 2011, which was indicates a 37% jump in just 10 years.33 Baby boomers in Florida represented 14% of the total treatment admissions, and these numbers may continue to grow in coming years.24 Fortunately, many treatment facilities are realizing this trend, and programs are being catered to this demographic specifically.
Mental Health in Palm Beach County
In 2010, close to 6,000 people in Palm Beach were discharged from the emergency room with a primary diagnosis of mental health issues, while just over 4,000 were discharged following a drug or alcohol diagnosis.21 Mental illness and substance use disorders regularly co-occur, and both are considered to be behavioral health issues.
Around 10% of Palm Beach County residents in 2010 did not consider themselves to be in “good mental health.”21 Over 65% of those battling mental illness in the state of Florida may go untreated.25
The suicide rate in Palm Beach County is similar to the rate in the state of Florida at around 13 per 100,000 residents.21 Both substance abuse and mental illness may be contributors to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, which may be preventable with mental health and/or substance abuse treatment.
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