Addiction, Substance Abuse & Treatment Statistics in Florida
Last Updated Dec 2, 2021
Search for the term “drug treatment centers in Florida,” and Google will pull up more than 39 million results. For many people in the United States, the Sunshine State is ideal for healing from an addiction.
While drug use rates are declining in Florida (and elsewhere across the country), thousands of Floridians lose their lives each year due to the use and abuse of drugs like opioids, cocaine, and heroin.
Read on to find out more about drug abuse in Florida and how you can get help if you live within the state.
The Scope of Addiction in Florida
How many people use drugs in Florida? How many of them develop addictions? Diving into treatment statistics can help to answer these questions.
The younger people are when they begin using drugs, the more likely they are to develop addiction-related issues. Early drug use changes brain chemistry, and the damage is permanent in some cases.
In Florida in 2020, about 5.5 percent of youth used any illicit drug other than marijuana in the month prior.
In both adults and children, drug use can cause people to break the law. They might:
- Steal. Drugs are expensive, and people often resort to crime to pay their dealers.
- Drive. Drugs can change your reflexes and make operating a motor vehicle very difficult. Impaired driving is against the law.
- Deal. Some people sell drugs to support a habit.
In Florida in 2018, police officers made more than 134,000 drug-related arrests in Florida. This number is in line with stats from other states, but it should cause alarm for anyone living in the state. Drugs make our communities less safe.
Cartels also harm Florida. Dealers use the state’s ports to bring drugs to the United States, and sometimes, their shipments stay where they’re imported.
Dealers have also made catastrophic mistakes with drugs. In 2017, for example, officials found $53 million of cocaine near Key West, all wrapped around a sea turtle.
Opioid Abuse in Florida
Any type of drug could harm someone who abuses it. But arguably, opioids remain a real and present problem for people in Florida.
- Prescription drugs. Painkillers like Vicodin boost pleasure signals in the brain, so pain is easier to ignore. Some people grow attached to that mood boost.
- Illicit substances. Dealers sell synthetic drugs like fentanyl to customers who can’t get a prescription for the drugs they need.
Deaths due to opioids peaked in Florida in 2010, researchers say. But in 2014, death rates began to climb again. In 2017 and 2018, examiners attributed 5.4 deaths per 100,000 people to opioids in Florida. This is alarming because:
- It’s not a decrease. In the United States, opioid deaths dipped in this timeframe. They remained the same in Florida.
- It could become a trend. When numbers stay the same, they could rise again next year.
- Abuse is localized. Anyone in Florida could abuse opioids, but central Florida seems to be the epicenter of deaths.
Of all the drugs that could cause an overdose in Florida, opioids remain the most dangerous. This drug class is responsible for almost 70 percent of overdose deaths in 2018.
What Drugs Do Florida Residents Use?
People living in Florida have a nearly endless supply of drugs to use and abuse. Consumers tend to focus on specific types of drugs.
The most popular substances to abuse in Florida include:
- Cocaine. A stimulant substance like cocaine boosts energy and a sense of well-being and happiness. Take too much, and the brain is overwhelmed, and the central nervous system shuts down.
In 2018, more than a thousand people in Florida died of a cocaine overdose. Florida is second only to New York in overdose rates in the country.
- Heroin. A natural substance, heroin is closely related to opioids. This drug boosts happy feelings in the brain, while it also slows down the heart and breathing rate.
It’s very easy to overdose on heroin. Less than one percent of adults in Florida have overdosed on heroin, which is lower than the nationwide rate.
- Methamphetamine. Dealers make stimulant medications from common household medications and over-the-counter cold drugs. Less than 1 percent of adults in Florida overdosed on meth, which is a lower rate than the rest of the nation.
- Marijuana. Less than 10 percent of adults in Florida use this drug monthly. It’s hard to overdose on marijuana, but it’s not impossible. People with cardiac conditions, for example, can spark unusual heartbeats by taking this natural drug.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the drugs people in Florida take regularly. But these are some of the most prevalent substances.
Florida Addiction Treatment Statistics
Florida is home to many, many addiction treatment facilities. People from all around the world come to Florida to get help with their addictions.
In the 2018 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, this was the treatment center breakdown:
- Private nonprofit centers: 297
- Private for-profit centers: 395
- Local, county, or community: 16
- State-run: 3
- Federally run: 15
Of all of those facilities:
- Outpatient: 82.4%
- Residential: 29.2%
- Hospital inpatient: 8.1%
Between 2005 and 2015, there were 171 admissions per 100,000 people 12 and older. This is an extremely low number. In Connecticut, for example, there were more than 2,000 admissions per 100,000 people.
It’s not clear why so few people enter treatment. Drug use levels in the state aren’t remarkably lower than the numbers we see in other states.
Florida Addiction Resources
If you’re living in Florida and you need help with addiction, you have plenty of resources.
Those resources include:
- State programs. The Florida Department of Children and Families handles addiction treatment within the state.
- Local resources. Use this website to get connected with help within your county.
- Local nonprofits. Call 211 to get connected with services. This is a free service.
You can also talk with your doctor. During your next appointment, talk about the issues you’re dealing with and ask for a referral for help.
2020 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey. (2020). Florida Department of Children and Families.
Drug Offenses. Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Patterns of and Trends in Substance Use in Florida. (2021). Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association.
Florida: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms. (April 2020). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
These Are the Four Wildest Drug Finds Off the Coast of Florida. (August 2021). Miami New Times.
National Drug Threat Assessment. (March 2021). Drug Enforcement Administration.
2018 State Profile: Florida. National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services.
Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2005 – 2015. (July 2017). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Treatment for Substance Abuse. Florida Department of Children and Families.
Get Help. Florida Department of Children and Families.
211: Your First Call for Help. United Way.