While Palm Beach County is known as a sanctuary for recovering addicts, paramedics do not get a wink of sleep, and they can race to over 20 overdose calls in a day or rescue several people in a single residence who have shared a bad batch. Last year alone, they responded to thousands of overdose calls, many of which ended in fatalities. It has been reported that there are numerous facilities that are in the guise of sober homes or treatment centers for young adults suffering from substance abuse but in reality, they are flop houses for drug users sprawled everywhere Palm Beach.
Relapses and overdoses have skyrocketed, particularly after potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl, Carfentanil and the ultra-potent heroin laced with synthetics hit the street causing 592 overdoses in 2016. With such carnage on the rise, it has forced state officials to hold their very first opioid workshop in Palm Beach where families and friends who were either drug users themselves in the past or have lost loved ones to the ravages of drug addiction and overdoses were able to share their stories.
Public health officials are now urging the president to declare the nation’s opioid crisis a national health emergency in order to appeal to the administration to take immediate action as well as encourage funding for the obliteration of illicit drugs. This has seen six governors from the states of Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts declare emergencies to not only deal with the opioids epidemic but to also crack down on over-prescription of painkillers as well as threaten doctors with imprisonment and the loss of their medical licenses if they prescribed the drugs corruptly.
There was also a call to evaluate a patients’ history of drug use or addiction before doctors can recommend any types of opioid because 40 – 75% of heroin users in treatment started with prescription medication as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and JAMA Psychiatry found. Doctors, physician assistants, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, and advanced practice nurses are authorized to prescribe pain medication to patients with acute and chronic pain, but not all users will take them as prescribed.
Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that he would not only fight unlicensed pain management clinics, but he will also propose a regulation of placing a three-day limit on prescribed opioids unless strict conditions are met for a seven-day supply. In addition to that, all healthcare professionals who dispense medication will be required to take part in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program that monitors controlled substance prescriptions and in the education on responsible opioids prescription.
The governor also made a commitment to propose an investment of more than $50 million that will go toward funding The Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council for the treatment of substance abuse as well as counseling and recovery services in the hopes of reducing the spread of dangerous drugs and eradicating the national opioid epidemic.