The Opioid Crisis in Bradenton
The Opioid Epidemic has battered the State of Florida, especially Bradenton and Manatee County. From 2016 to 2017, the statewide number of drug overdose deaths increased by almost 6%. The majority of overdoses which occur in Florida involve at least one opioid, often fentanyl mixed with heroin. In Manatee County, from 2013 to 2017, 492 people suffered a fatal drug overdose, and the county’s rate of annual drug deaths per 100,000 residents (35.5) is almost double the same rate for Florida (18.9). Tragically, in terms of the number of lives lost, Manatee County is the Florida county which opioid abuse has most severely impacted.
In 2018, there was a sign of hope. The combined efforts of law enforcement, hospitals, addiction treatment centers, and the local community succeeded in lowering the total number of opioid overdoses in Bradenton and Manatee County to 362 overdoses. Of these, 33 were fatal. While this number is tragically high, it is an improvement from the 1,200 overdoses (123 of which were fatal) which occurred in Manatee County in 2016.
Rick Wells, the Sheriff of Manatee County, attributed the decline in overdoses to the fact that law enforcement arrested 43 opioid traffickers in the county last year, and that Bradenton police strive to send opioid-addicted drug offenders to treatment rather than jail, since most people in Bradenton become addicted to opioids after using legal prescription painkillers. In 2017, health care providers in Florida wrote 60.9 opioid prescriptions for every 100 residents, an opioid-prescription rate which was slightly higher than the national average of 58.7 prescriptions for every 100 Americans.
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Meth Abuse and Drug Trafficking in Bradenton
While the opioid crisis in Bradenton begins to subside, there is a resurgence in the market for methamphetamine in Manatee County. In 2017, there were about ten meth-related deaths per 100,000 Manatee County residents, and in 2018, Manatee County police seized a total of 3,720 grams of meth. In only the first three months of 2019, the police in Manatee County have already seized another 600 grams of meth and arrested 16 members of a criminal conspiracy to distribute more than 287 grams of the drug in Bradenton and the surrounding area.
Meth seizures have risen over the last few years, but so has cocaine. Despite our successes last year in reducing overdoses and deaths related to heroin and fentanyl, we are still seeing it on our streets as well.”
Last year, Gabino Peralta-Saucedo, one of the most notorious Mexican drug traffickers, pleaded guilty for smuggling at least 12,000 kilograms of cocaine into Bradenton and Manatee County. Furthermore, in 2019, the police in Bradenton arrested a man for possessing 100 grams of the drug. As drugs continue to flood into Manatee County, the human costs continue rising, with Bradenton police reporting 65 drug overdoses in their city in 2018.
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Drug addiction is a tremendous burden, but there is hope for recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact a dedicated treatment professional today for more information on where to go to get help. With professional treatment, anyone can overcome addiction, and there are rehab centers in Bradenton and throughout Florida which offer treatment for addiction to a wide array of illegal substances.