In 2010, in response to the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse flooding both the state and the country, Florida issued a series of sweeping legal reforms with the intention of curbing overdose rates. Four years later, the initiative has seen an impressive level of success, with prescription drug overdoses between 2010 and 2012 dropping by 23 percent, according to The New York Times. Citing data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the Times also notes that overdoses specifically related to oxycodone use, one of the predominant sources of drug abuse, fell especially sharply, by nearly 50 percent during the same two-year period.
"This tells us that policies and enforcement work," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, told the source. "This is an epidemic that was caused largely by inappropriate prescribing, and it can be fixed to a significant extent by improving prescribing."
Prescription drug abuse results in over 20,000 American deaths every year, and Florida's recent success marks one of the first major efforts to stem the tide of what has become a public health crisis.
Among the new "legal and regulatory changes" issued in 2010 were a mandate for Florida-based pain clinics to register with the state and a series of raids that seized drugs and shut down pain clinics. The sharp rise in prescription drug overdoses was largely related to lax prescription standards among clinics and physicians, and by attacking this problem at the source, state authorities have been successful in reducing the number of prescriptions issued — and consequently, the number of overdose deaths.
If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription drug use, reach out to Fairwinds Treatment Center, one of the top drug addiction treatment centers in Florida. Established in 1989 by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, Fairwinds specializes in a unique dual diagnosis method that treats addiction by identifying — and helping patients to resolve — the fundamental psychological issues responsible for drug use, ranging from prescription pills to alcohol.