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Floridians 3x More Likely to OD on Prescription Drugs Than Illicit Drugs

posted 11:09 PM EST, Sat June 14, 2008
Floridians 3x More Likely to OD on Prescription Drugs Than Illicit Drugs © Photo: Rodrigo Senna

The abuse of prescription drugs is a big problem in Florida, and newly released DEA statistics show that prescription drug overdoses account for three times as many deaths as illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin.

Just under 1000 Floridians died after overdosing on illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin last year.

Over 3000 people died in Florida last year after overdosing on prescription medications like opiate based painkillers, or drugs like xanax.

Floridians are 3 times more likely to die from the overdose of a legal prescription medication than from drugs like crack cocaine, meth amphetamine or heroin. DEA officials call it an epidemic, and say that across the US, almost 7 million people are abusing prescription drugs – an 80% increase in just 6 years.

Jeff Beasley, a DEA agent in Florida, described the challenges involved in prescription drug abuse suppression - saying, “You have health care providers involved, you have doctor shoppers, and then there are crimes like robbing drug shipments. There is a multitude of ways to get these drugs, and that’s what makes things complicated.”

Florida has considered mimicking the lead of 38 other states that have enacted legislation allowing for the sales tracking of certain medications, but all previous efforts in Florida have stalled due to privacy concerns.

Lisa McElhaney a police officer who works in the Broward County Pharmaceutical Drug Diversion Unit summed it up saying, "The abuse has reached epidemic proportions. It’s just explosive.”

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