Trends in drug use in Florida appear to be similar to many other states. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the following illicit drugs are most commonly observed as being primary drugs of abuse in drug admissions in the Florida:
- Marijuana: The most popular illicit drug of abuse, according to the numbers of admissions for drug treatment, is marijuana. This is consistent with similar data for nearly all other states.
- Opioids: The second most popular drugs of abuse in Florida include opioid medications and opioid drugs such as heroin. This category also includes prescription drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin, and so forth.
- Cocaine and stimulant abuse: The third most common illicit drug found in drug abuse treatment admissions is cocaine. Other stimulant drugs of abuse followed.
- Tranquilizers: Other central nervous system depressants, such as tranquilizers (benzodiazepines most likely), rounded out the list of drugs of abuse most commonly observed in drug treatment admissions.
Even though certain stimulants, opioid drugs, and benzodiazepines can be purchased legally with a prescription, most often, individuals who abuse these drugs obtain them illegally.
Heroin is not legal to obtain or use in any state. The issue with heroin abuse in Florida may be related to a few factors, according to a 2014 article in Reuters:
- From 2011 to 2012, heroin overdose fatalities increased by 89 percent.
- Because Florida is a southern state, heroin can be easily brought into Florida from Mexico.
- The age group that appears most affected by heroin abuse includes young adults 18-29 years old.
- Some sources attribute the rising use of heroin in Florida to earlier issues with rampant access to prescription narcotic medications, such as Vicodin and OxyContin. A number of recent policy changes have significantly reduced access to these medications; however, heroin is a cheaper and more potent alternative.
Alcohol and Tobacco
While the above figures relate to illegal substances, two legal substances remain the most abused drugs in the state. Alcohol continues to be the main drug of abuse in Florida, and tobacco is also consistently used. The following facts illustrate the prevalence of both substances in the state:
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the state’s website, alcohol is the most commonly abused drug observed in drug treatment admissions in Florida.
- In 2009, nearly 14,000 people were admitted for treatment for an alcohol use disorder in Florida.
- An additional 8,400 people were admitted for treatment of alcohol abuse and some other secondary drug of abuse.
- In addition to the alcohol use figures, the percentage of individuals who smoke tobacco in Florida in 2011 was nearly 20 percent. The percentage ranged from nearly 12 percent to 29 percent in different localities in Florida.
- The percentage of adult individuals using smokeless tobacco products was 3 percent in 2011.
Alcohol typically tops the list of drugs that are seen in treatment centers as the primary substance of abuse because of the relative ease with which alcohol can be purchased in the United States. Even though it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, most individuals in this age group who want to drink appear to have little difficulty in obtaining alcohol. Thus, the most abused drug in the state of Florida remains alcohol despite alarming rates of opioid drug abuse in the state.
Tobacco use remains a significant problem in Florida as well. It is difficult to determine actual instances of tobacco use disorders since most of these individuals do not enroll in formal treatment programs. However, one could guess that tobacco use disorders may be the one of the most prominent substance use disorders in nearly any state based on figures regarding tobacco use.
Of the illicit drugs of abuse, marijuana appears to be the most abused illicit drug in Florida; however, there is an increasing trend in the state toward heroin abuse. Other opioid drugs also remain as major drugs of abuse in Florida.