Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida sits in the center of some of the nation’s busiest drug trafficking routes, and drugs are easier and less expensive to obtain than in many other locations. Additionally, the city is one of the global leaders in tourism, meaning that a large percentage of residents are only in the city for a comparatively short time. The city also has a reputation for being a major party destination. Orlando is also home to one of the world’s largest institutes of higher education, the University of Central Florida. These factors combine to create significant substance abuse and addiction problems in the city.
The Opioid Epidemic in Orlando
Heroin is widely abused across Florida and is the 5th leading cause of drug-related fatalities in the state, as 733 people died in 2015 from overdoses. In the span of two and a half months in 2016, 63 drug overdose deaths were reported in the Orlando area, and heroin was responsible for 28 of them. In a twenty-four hour period, there were 11 reported overdoses in a single Orlando apartment complex, known as Blossom Park.
Out of 733 state-wide deaths, 103 of the deceased were in Orlando. Orlando remains one of the major cities most plagued by opioid addiction. Orange and Osceola counties, where Orlando is located, rank in the top 8 counties in the entire state of Florida for heroin deaths. Orange county leaders are fighting the opioid crisis by making Narcan, the drug used to revive people who have overdosed on opioids, more readily available.
Fentanyl poses another concern for Orlando residents, as fentanyl use increased by 97 percent across the state in 2016, resulting in 1,390, 70 of which were in Orlando. Despite the dangers posed by illicit opioids, morphine and other prescription opioids actually killed more Orlando residents than street drugs in 2016.
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Orange Blossom Trail
Orange Blossom Trail, one of the Orlando neighborhoods most notorious for drug abuse, boasts a very high percentage of the city’s drug overdoses. Overdoses here are common; 150 people overdosed in 2018. Many of Orlando’s natives who have substance abuse disorders frequent this side of town to replenish their drug needs. This area is also known for the presence of prostitutes, most of whom are women who struggle with substance abuse disorders.
Women and Addiction in Orlando
Women who decide to indulge in drug use, such as cocaine or opioids, open themselves up to unique gender-based and biological challenges. When buying drugs from dangerous Orlando neighborhoods, for example, women face an increasing risk of being the victim of physical and sexual violence.
Women struggling with drugs and alcohol can become exposed to people who can force them into prostitution, as Orlando ranks number 3 in the U.S for human trafficking. Women who work in prostitution are often addicted to drugs and further exploited sexually, physically, psychologically and emotionally.
Expectant Mothers and Drug Addiction in Orlando
Other unique risks for women struggling with substance abuse disorders include biological challenges that can impact other lives. Pregnant women who abuse heroin, alcohol, cocaine, prescription drugs, and other drugs run the risk of giving birth to babies with drug addictions, as the substances goes though the babies’ bloodstream from the mother.
In 2016, there was a 70 percent increase in the number of babies born with addictions in Orlando. Approximately 325 babies were born with addictions in 2017 in the area. Babies with addictions can experience:
- Massive pain
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Birth defects
- Learning disabilities
On occasion, children may be placed in protective custody and their mother treated for addiction. In hospitals, some are given the drug they are addicted to, then weaned from it so that they can live a normal life. Other babies have been treated for addictions, but maintained learning disabilities, co-occurring disorders, and birth defects. State-wide attempts are being made to reduce babies with addictions. Florida laws are being enacted to encourage child protective investigators to assist addicted babies before they are severely harmed.
Orlando Options for Drug and Alcohol Addiction
In response to the number of overdoses, treatment facilities are available to help people with substance abuse disorders recover. Going “cold turkey,” or conducting at home detox, is not suggested, as symptoms can be uncomfortable, and even fatal. Withdrawal symptoms for many drugs include:
- Increasing blood pressure
Patients can choose to heal on campus in rehab facilities, when they have access to professionals who assist them with medically-supervised detox. At inpatient facilities, patients have access to support groups, medication, and holistic therapies for mind and body healing. Patients wanting to balance personal commitment and recovery can opt for outpatient rehab, which provides medication and support groups for patients who continue living at home.
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