Fort Lauderdale, a city located in Broward County has a population of 181,557 people. The city is located 28 miles north of Miami and is a very popular tourist hot spot, especially during Spring Break. It has 3,000 hours of sunshine annually and an average temperature of 75 degrees.
Fort Lauderdale, named after several forts built during the Second Seminole War by the United States developed fifty years after its forts were abandoned. The city is famous for its events, culture, art and 23 miles of beautiful sandy beaches. A historic waterfront, ride on the canals via a gondola and shopping on Las Olas Boulevard are just three reasons that the city is always packed with people.
The city is the nation’s second-most popular tourist destination for people on Spring Break. Fort Lauderdale has an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, a median income level of $48,898 and crime index rate of 2 out of 100. The crime rate is not surprising since there are so many people in one place. Fort Lauderdale is one big party which means drugs are a problem within the city. In 2016, 653 drug-related deaths per 100,000 people were recorded in Broward County and 90 percent of those deaths were caused by fentanyl, heroin or other opioids. That number is up from 260 in 2015. The number of fatal opioid drug overdoses are rising every year and have been doing so since 2011 in South Florida.
Opioids are everywhere in the United States. Big cities have high drug percentages for people abusing them and people fatally overdosing on them. Addicts prefer to use pain meds like Percocet or Vicodin to get high but since a bottle can cost $80 or more, people generally stick to heroin, which can cost as little as $5 on the streets. Fentanyl however, is a very popular drug in overdose deaths. It is 50 times stronger than heroin. In South Florida, every two hours someone overdoses on drugs.
Due to an increase in replacements of drugs like heroin such a fentanyl or carfentanil (cheaply made synthetic drugs) people are unaware of the potency being used or the dosage that they are taking which is what is causing the overdoses.
Drugs are not the only problem, alcohol is causing its own issue with nearly one-half of drug-related deaths in Florida in 2016. People love to party in Fort Lauderdale, so drugs and alcohol are abundant.
Drugs and alcohol statistics for all of the United States are extremely high and there is an unprecedented percentage rate for opioid addiction. Not only are adults hooked on drugs, teens are too and more kids are noticing too. More schools are finding that the number of teens addicted to opioids and drinking alcohol is increasing. Many teens are unware of the dangers of prescription pain pills. They feel that since they are prescribed by a doctor that they must be safe to take. So, more teens are becoming addicted to pain pills every single day and those same kids are at risk for an overdose. Not too mention the fact that teens usually do not have a lot of money to pay for pain pills which means that they rely on cheap synthetic drugs like fentanyl to get high from.
The opioid epidemic is not likely to stop anytime soon but spreading the word and raising awareness about synthetic drugs causing drug overdoses by the hundreds due to their high potency factor could change the way people do drugs. That could be enough to save some lives. More education needs to be offered in school about these drugs and the education needs to be introduced as young as elementary schools since children are becoming addiction to drugs as 12 years old and older. Education is half the battle, action is the other half.
Action means seeing that someone is abusing drugs and doing something to help them. Many teens know that their friends do drugs but never say a word to anyone about it. That is enabling and can cost them a friend in the end. Doing drugs and drinking alcohol is a problem and it shouldn’t go on like it has been. The problem cannot be swept under the rug as if it doesn’t exist. People are dying, children are dying due to drug addiction. If adults are too afraid to get help, teens will follow suite.
Drug rehabilitation doesn’t have to be looked at as a scary thing. If fact, many drug rehab facilities are creating a “spa-like” feel to their environment which helps people to feel more comfortable. A lot of rehab centers have in-house activities for people to enjoy, weekend adventures to movies, bowling, etc., some centers have a fitness facility, others have art and music therapy and most rehabs offer a yoga, Tai Chi and mediation area. More rehab centers are offering cable service for TV’s in the patient’s bedroom and some even offer gender specific privacy rooms. All these things are built around helping a person to get the most out of their treatment to avoid a relapse.
When a person knows more about a specific topic, they began to fear it less. The process of rehabilitation is broken down into four steps: Assessment, Detox, Inpatient/Outpatient Treatment and Aftercare. These four steps have different healing pathways to help a person to break free from addiction and create a new life for themselves. It’s not 100 percent effective for every person and some people do end up relapsing and retuning back to rehab. Others stay sober and create a beautiful, strong life for themselves. The success of rehab is built off many factors: the strength of person’s will to change, the reasons behind a person’s addiction and life as a whole. Some people find it easy to never go back to drugs or alcohol and others find it a daily struggle. Each person’s battle is different and so is their treatment.
Crime in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Lauderdale has one of the highest crime rates in the country. The crime rate is 108% higher than the rest of Florida and 129% higher than the rest of the nation. The violent crime rate is 2 times higher than the rest of the country. This is a direct reflection of the desperate opioid epidemic in this city.
The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, signed legislation for harsher punishments for drug dealers in possession of fentanyl. Depending on the amount of drugs in their possession, the state senate past a law that they could spend anywhere from 3 to 25 years in prison. They also passed legislation that dealers can be charged with murder if the addicts they sell to, overdose.
Unfortunately, the system can be undermined when those who are supposed to serve and protect, weaken the system by betraying the badge they wear and use their position to aid the drug dealer trafficking drugs. Recently a Broward County Sheriff deputy was arrested and charged with racketeering, tampering with evidence, owning or renting a building to traffic drugs and giving false information. He was a member of a drug trafficking ring and the ring its self was trafficking cocaine and heroin.
Broward County Drug Court
Broward County drug court is a pioneer in the drug court system. It was instated in 1991 and is one of the oldest drug court systems in the United States. The drug court program is designed to help rehabilitate those who have committed non-violent, drug related crimes. It is an alternative to jail that gives offenders a chance at drug treatment, with the hope of keeping them from becoming repeat offenders. Addicts are enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program for a set period of time. The Broward County drug court is for individuals who are 18 and older. This system has an excellent success rate and it saves the county thousands of dollars. Participants are expected to take drug test and partake in the treatment program but statistically they have a greater chance of staying off drugs, finding employment and not breaking the law again.
Risk factors for Abuse
Drug addiction is caused by several different reasons but most often it’s caused by genetics. If addiction runs in the family, the chances of the next person in line developing an addiction to is very high. However, there are environmental reasons as well. Some people are in a hard spot in life or have endured some hard traumas and have turned to drugs as a “solution”. Mental health disorders are also a factor in drug addiction as well.
Common Signs of Addiction
Some people can work very hard to hide their drug addiction from family and friends, but one can usually tell by the way a person acts and looks. Drugs cause a person to shake more, they cause a person to sweat more, eyes become dilated, a person’s demeanor changes and it’s possible that a person starts wearing long sleeve shirts to cover injection sites. These are all signs of drug addiction. Draining one’s bank account and talking about drugs regularly is another sign.
Process of Addiction
Addiction forms through a cycle that starts with the initial use of a drug. Not everyone who uses drugs will become addicted. There are many people who have used drugs in their life time and have not become addicted to them. Initial use starts when a drug has either been prescribed and taken or a person has experimented with recreational drugs. This is the initial starting phase. Some people experiment and that is it. Some finish their bottle of prescribed pain pills and that is it. Others blow right past the initial use and realize that they need more which leads into abuse. Abuse happens when a person starts to use drugs outside the recommendation or more than experimentally which in turns leads to tolerance. Tolerance is when a person needs more of a dosage of drugs to get the same high as they did when they first started using which leads to dependence. Dependence is when a person becomes dependent on the drug to function daily which can lead to an addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease that not every person who is dependent on drugs suffers from. Addiction becomes a factor when a person starts to endure withdrawal symptoms after they have stopped a drug. Relapse is the final phase in the addiction cycle and stems from a person’s inability to stay clean and sober after rehabilitation. Chances are high that many people will experience some degree of the addiction cycle, but some people never do have to deal with an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
The numbers are increasing daily and more people are suffering from addiction than ever before. The United States has never seen such high numbers where addiction and fatal overdoses are concerned and researchers suggest that those numbers will only get higher. Raising drug and alcohol awareness needs to be a prominent factor in today’s society and it can start with just one person at a time.
Getting Help for Addiction in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
The assessment period, also known as pre-intake or intake is the first step in the rehabilitation process. This step can feel like an interview for someone who has never been through it. An assessment is meant to assess a patient to find out if there is an addiction present and what sort of treatment would be best for the patient. This step is usually full of questions about past drug use, present drug use, family drug use, family health history, mental health history and social environment questions. All of these questions are important and necessary to provide the best treatment plan. Honesty will help doctors to create a diagnosis that will help to make treatment most efficient so that a relapse risk decreases.
During the assessment period, a physical exam and some lab tests will be administered. A physical exam is necessary to make sure the body can hold up to detox on a physical level while the lab test is usually a urine test to show what type of drugs are in the body.
Once both have been completed, the doctor will have a better understanding of what step should happen next. Sometimes patients are free to move to inpatient/outpatient treatment but most of the time, patients go into detox. While being admitted to the facility, financial arrangements will be setup and patients will also receive a checklist of items that cannot be brought into the centers such as drugs/alcohol, pornography, weapons, cell phones, etc. Each facility is different and therefore, each item checklist will be different but most of the time these four items are standard no-go’s.
Detox is the hardest step to endure in the rehabilitation process because of the withdrawal symptoms. Detox is meant to cleanse the body of all drugs. For people who have been doing drugs up to the point of entering rehab, this can be a grueling experience and depending on the type of drug, it can be even harsher. When a person is addicted to a drug, it encompasses the entire body, so it becomes a mental, emotional and physical dependence. When the influx of drugs stops so does the feel-good vibes that comes with it which naturally puts the body, mind and emotions in a state of shock. People freak out a little bit. Everyone is different however, so what is bad for one person might not be so bad for another person. Either way, people usually do end up experiencing some of the same withdrawal symptoms:
- Muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Drug cravings
- Possible seizures
- Itchy skin
The intensity of these symptoms changes from patient to patient due to some factors such as: length of drug use, the type of drugs being used, the mental health of a patient and whether or not a patient has been through rehab before. For patients who have an opioid addiction, withdrawal symptoms can be severe at times. However, patients are supervised 24/7 while in detox and doctors can prescribe a medication to help cut drug cravings for up to 36 hours.
While detox doesn’t sound like much of a party and gives a lot of people anxiety about going to rehab, it is necessary because the body needs to be completely free of drugs before inpatient/outpatient treatment can begin. If drugs still exist in the body, treatment cannot have the full advantage it needs to instill the right help and a relapse is imminent.
This step in the process is one of the most important steps and the longest. On average inpatient treatment will last 28 days. In some cases, it can last longer. This depends on what type of drug is being used and how long drugs have been a part of someone’s life. Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is the first type of treatment a person will attend. RTC takes place 5 hours a day for a 28-day period. It’s filled with therapy and activities to help addicts to find out why they became addicted to drugs, what sort of trigger points cause the desire to do drugs while also helping to put any past traumas that could inspire drug addiction to rest as well. Individual therapy is a focus point during RTC but there are group therapy sessions patients attend as well. For RTC, patients are given a list of activities and times to attend. Facilities put patients in charge of their own recovery because this if the first step to overcoming addiction. Having structure while trying to recover is very important and allows patients to have a daily goal to meet.
When patients are released from RTC, they are recommended for Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). PHP is an outpatient program so patients are free to go home or to a sober living home until their next meeting. PHP takes place at a facility for 6 hours or more hours a day for 5-7 days week. The time a patient needs to be at the facility will be recommended by a doctor, so each person’s time will change. PHP is meant to instill many of the things taught in RTC. It also helps a person to develop coping skills that can be used to calm those trigger points that can lead to drug use. PHP is devoted more to group therapy but still has many individual therapy sessions.
Intensive Outpatient Therapy (IOP) is the last outpatient treatment that is recommended by the rehabilitation center. IOP is designed to help wean a person off of rehab, per say. People who have been in a 28-day RTC program and then attended a few weeks of PHP are not usually ready to fly solo yet. IOP can be helpful in making that transition from rehab life to home life. IOP is focused more around group therapy which introduces a person to a support group setting. The next step in the rehabilitation, aftercare is about attending support groups so it is important to get a feel for it. IOP also helps to instill those coping skills while also helping people to manage their drug cravings while continuing to manage different emotions.
Aftercare to Insure Sobriety
Aftercare is actually taught during RTC, the basics of it anyways. People who are recovering from an addiction will continue to recover their entire life. There is no point in time where a person is fully cured. Temptation will always be there and in some point in time, an addict will want to do drugs or alcohol again. For many people, the outside world seems to be intimidating to go back to, straight from rehab. Therefore, a number of people decide to go to a sober living house or halfway house instead. These houses are designed to help people transition while providing structure and rules that people are accustomed to. Sober living houses and halfway houses also have other residents living in them which can help a person to not feel as lonely.
Aftercare is about attending support groups. Support groups are filled with people who are facing the same battle as another person in the room, addiction. Empathy and support go a long way in these groups because everyone else is either enduring the same battle or have endured it. For those that have already endured and continue to try to stay on the right track, they usually become sponsors to help others. Sponsors are very encouraging and supportive and usually are available to help a person to avoid a relapse at all costs. Support groups give a person a place to air out their feelings while also creating a safe environment to be to avoid drug and alcohol temptation.
Aftercare also means finding a way to keep busy. This could be through school, work or joining a hobby. People who are not busy usually find some way to get into trouble and addicts are too tempted by their addiction to stay idle for too long. Hobbies are great for keeping a person busy and learning something new can always be rewarding. There are so many great hobbies out there in the world so it’s important to find one that is compelling.
Anything that creates stress is not good for a person trying to break free from their addiction. Stressors can cause a relapse. Aftercare also mean ridding one’s life of all negativity which is both objects and people. For someone who attended rehab, the chances are very high that the friends that person had before rehab did drugs or alcohol as well. This is not a good environment to go back into once rehab is over.
Aftercare is about ridding one’s life of negative influences that can cause one to relapse. Objects that are reminders and people that tempt a person to return to drug use have to be avoided. The best way to do that is to start over in life.
However, sometimes those people tempting us are family members and that can make this process harder to do. Support groups and therapists can make the transition much easier.
A Step in the Right Direction
Conquering any addiction is a difficult journey but it will be the most rewarding thing you will ever do. When you enter treatment you will find people who want to help, support and encourage you on your road to recovery. Let us help you find your own road.