Florida is a major market for drugs. Despite being nicknamed the “Sunshine State”, this beautiful part of the country has a dark side. Unfortunately, there have been real consequences to the state’s consumption of drugs. For example, there was a 5.9% increase in fatal overdoses from 2016 to 2017.

That being said, let’s take a closer look at the five most commonly abused drugs in the state.

1. Alcohol

Alcohol abuse is widespread throughout the state. Because it’s legal, it can be tempting to overlook its dangers. However, a 2018 report concluded that:

  1. Alcohol was involved in 44% of all drug-related deaths.
  2. Alcohol was determined to be the primary cause of death in 18% of these cases.
  3. Throughout the state, 839 people died in alcohol-related car accidents.

Unfortunately, the negative effects of alcohol affect all age groups. Consider the following statistics from the Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey:

  1. 1 in 5 high school students reported binge drinking in the past two weeks.
  2. Approximately 1 out of every 8 high school students reported blacking out in this same time period.

2. Opioids

Just like everywhere else in the country, Florida is in the grips of a serious opioid epidemic. In fact, Governor Rick Scott officially declared a state of emergency in May of 2017. As a result, the state was able to collect $54 million from the federal government as part of a two-year grant. State health organizations could then use this grant money to pay for treatments, overdose medications, and counseling services.

However, these funds are barely scratching the surface:

  1. Opioid-related deaths increased 9% from 2016 to 2017.
  2. The number of fatal overdoses increased 18 times from 2011 to 2016.
  3. There were 80% more Fentanyl overdoses in 2016 compared to 2015. There was a further 25% increase from 2016 to 2017.
  4. These drugs were involved in 42,249 deaths in 2016.

3. Cocaine

Since the 1980s, Florida has been a major hub for the importation of cocaine from Columbia. As a result, this drug is extremely prevalent in the state, especially in major metropolitan areas.

For example, according to recent research:

  1. There was a 9% increase in occurrences of the drug and a 14% increase in fatal overdoses.
  2. In 2017, the drug was the primary cause of death in 61% of all fatal overdoses.
  3. State law enforcement agencies seized 143% more of the drug from 2015 to 2016.

4. Methamphetamines

Meth is a serious problem in the rural areas of the state. For the most part, its negative impact has been overlooked as most media coverage has focused on the opioid epidemic.

Originally, small-time manufacturers produced the drug in secret labs. However, production has shifted to high-tech “super labs” located in Mexico. Well-organized drug cartels then smuggle huge quantities of the drug over the border.

Consequently, this influx of the drug has resulted in the following statistics:

  1. In 2017, there was a 38% increase in occurrences of the drug and a 42% increase in fatal overdoses.
  2. In 2018, the state had the tenth highest rate of seizures for the drug.
  3. For certain rural counties, up to 70% of jail inmates are behind bars because of meth.

5. Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are more commonly found in overdose deaths than illegal drugs. In fact, prescription medications account for 58% of all drug-related deaths (not counting situations where alcohol is present). Furthermore, it’s very common for people to die due to a mixture of prescription medications. This is formally known as multiple drug toxicity.

That being said, let’s consider the following figures for the year 2017:

  1. 6,932 people died with at least one prescription drug in their system (a 4% increase from 2016).
  2. 3,684 people died with at least one prescription drug in their system that was the primary cause of death (a 4% increase from 2016).
  3. After alcohol (5,258 cases), benzodiazepines are the second most commonly found drug in deceased individuals (5,064 cases). Xanax was found in 1,889 of these cases.
  4. Benzodiazepines were ranked fourth for causing the most deaths (1,374 cases, including 791 deaths from Xanax).

Finding Addiction Treatment in Florida

Substance abuse and drug addiction are serious issues in the state. However, addiction is a disease. It’s not just a lack of willpower or morality. In fact, it’s a lifelong condition that affects both the user and their loved ones. Much like any other medical condition, professionals must treat it in a clinical setting.

If you or a loved one is suffering from the disease of addiction, then you must take the first step towards recovery and call Rehab Adviser. Help is only a phone call away!


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Drug Overdose Deaths”. <https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/florida-opioid-summary>
  2. Palm Beach Post. “State drunken-driving deaths drop more than 7 percent in 2017”. October 09, 2018. <https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime–law/latest-state-drunken-driving-deaths-drop-more-than-percent-2017/vP24QyVkTbRnMoS3RZfTvK/>
  3. WUSF Public Media. “Feds give Florida another $27M for opioid crisis.” April 20, 2018. <https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime–law/latest-state-drunken-driving-deaths-drop-more-than-percent-2017/vP24QyVkTbRnMoS3RZfTvK/>
  4. FADAA. “Patterns and Trends of Substance Abuse”. May 2018. <https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.fadaa.org/resource/resmgr/files/resource_center/050818_Epidimiologist_Patter.pdf>
  5. South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Cocaine comes roaring back to South Florida — and then some”. May 26, 2017. <https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-reg-cocaine-surge-fueling-overdoses-20170523-story.html>
  6. DEA. 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment. <https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-11/DIR-032-18%202018%20NDTA%20final%20low%20resolution.pdf>
  7. Florida Department of Children & Families. “Patterns and Trends of the Opioid Epidemic in Florida”. 2018. <http://www.floridahealth.gov/statistics-and-data/e-forcse/fl-seow-annual-report-2018.pdf>
  8. Tallahassee Democrat. “A ‘plague’ in rural Florida: Coming to grips with the meth epidemic in Franklin County”. October 5, 2018. <https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2018/10/05/meth-epidemic-florida-franklin-county/1457786002/>
  9. National Drug Intelligence Center. “Florida Drug Threat Assessment”. <https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs5/5169/cocaine.htm>
  10. Missouri State Highway Patrol. “Meth Lab Statistics”. <https://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/DevelopersPages/DDCC/methLabDisclaimer.html>
  11. Medical Examiners Commission. “Drugs identified in deceased persons by Florida Medical Examiners”. 2017 Annual Report. <https://www.fdle.state.fl.us/MEC/Publications-and-Forms/Documents/Drugs-in-Deceased-Persons/2017-Annual-Drug-Report.aspx>

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