Guide to Mental Health & Addiction Treatment in Florida


A ddiction is a common disease. In 2013, approximately 23 million Americans aged 12 and older needed some kind of treatment for issues related to drug or alcohol use or abuse.[1] In addition, about one in four adults in the United States will suffer from some form of mental illness in a given year.[2]

Substance abuse, addiction, and mental illness are all considered mental and behavioral health issues, and they often occur simultaneously. Between 2009 and 2013, approximately 880,000 Floridians received treatment for any mental illness (AMI), which was only 36.3 percent of those who needed treatment, leaving a further 63.7 percent without treatment that may have helped them during that time.[3]

There may be several perceived barriers to treatment, from cost to health insurance to just not knowing where and how to get help. Within the state of Florida, there are many different forms of substance abuse, addiction, and mental health treatment options that can be tailored to the specific requirements of each individual. Help is within reach.

Florida Treatment Guide

Types of Behavioral Health Services Offered within Florida

I n Florida, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) program operates within the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). It is federally designated as the state authority on substance abuse and mental health, and any issues relating to either or both.[4] The SAMH program helps to treat individuals battling mental illness, addiction, or substance abuse, and it oversees the state system. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lists 226 substance abuse and mental health facilities around the state.[5] In addition to state-funded and public substance abuse programs, there are several private addiction treatment centers to choose from as well.

The Florida Mental Health Act, or the Baker Act, may be enacted in the case of individuals who present symptoms of mental illness, are potentially a danger to themselves or others, and may not perceive or understand that treatment can help.[6] The Baker Act provides legal recourse to mental health and medical professionals, as well as law enforcement and officers of the court, in order to submit someone for an involuntary psychiatric exam and further treatment if necessary.

addiction treatment options in florida

Each of the facilities in Florida offering behavioral health services is likely to offer their own selection of services that may be different from location to location. Substance abuse treatment programs may offer an array of services, including but not limited to:

  • Medical detox
  • Mental health assessment
  • Group and individual therapy
  • Counseling
  • Education
  • Life skills training
  • Parenting education and skills training
  • Transitional housing
  • Peer-support groups
  • Family support and counseling
  • Recovery support

In 2011, approximately 150,000 people in Florida received an involuntary exam.[7] Medical and mental health professionals initiated involuntary exams in 49 percent of the cases, while law enforcement initiated another 49 percent and circuit courts initiated 2 percent of the exams.[8] In many cases, how someone enters into treatment may not be as important as getting them there. Motivation can come in many forms and involuntary admission into a program may work just as well as voluntarily entering into treatment.

In Florida, when treatment admissions were measured in 2010, marijuana was the most common primary drug found in people admitted for substance abuse services, followed by opiates and then cocaine.[9] Treatment services may be offered in a residential or outpatient basis, depending on the situation of the individual seeking treatment. Residential treatment may also be called inpatient care, and individuals may stay on site in a specialized facility receiving around-the-clock treatment, care, and medical supervision for a certain amount of time.

No two people are exactly alike; therefore, treatment for addiction or mental illness should be customized to the individual in need. Many services can be provided on an outpatient basis wherein the individual returns home to sleep at night.

There are differing levels of care even within inpatient and outpatient treatment. An assessment is typically done first in order determine what level and type of treatment is best in each individual case, so the correct form of comprehensive care can be provided. Individuals may move between levels of care as needs and situations change as well.


High Drug Overdose Fatality Rates in Florida

N ationally, about 8 percent of Americans admit to using an illicit drug in the past month, and in Florida, rates are about the same.[10] What may be particularly concerning is that the mortality rate for drug overdoses is higher in the state of Florida than the national average.[11] In 2013, Florida was found to have the 11th highest mortality rate for drug overdoses in the United States.[12] There were 16.4 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013 in the state.[13] Over 4,000 people died with drugs in their system in Florida in the first six months of 2014.[14]

Specific drugs found present in fatal overdoses in the first six months of 2014 (January through June) and their rate of occurrence from highest to lowest:

  • Alcohol: 1,983
  • Cocaine: 725
  • Xanax: 577
  • Morphine: 525
  • Cannabinoids: 492
  • Oxycodone: 470
  • Hydrocodone: 339
  • Nordiazepam: 302
  • Tramadol: 301
  • Valium: 270
  • Methadone: 245
  • Temazepam: 231
  • Hydromorphone: 206
  • Fentanyl: 199
  • Oxazepam: 183
  • Klonopin: 170
  • Heroin: 156
  • Amphetamine: 132
  • Codeine: 125
  • Oxymorphone: 121
  • Zolpidem: 114
  • Methamphetamine: 109
  • Carisoprodol/Meprobamate: 91
  • Ativan: 90
  • Midazolam: 81
  • Bath salts: 72
  • Chlordiazepoxide: 46
  • Inhalants: 31
  • Buprenorphine: 17
  • Ketamine: 13
  • Sympathomimetic amines: 12
  • Others with less than 10 [15]

Across the nation, drug overdose has become an epidemic and surpassed even traffic accidents as the number one cause of injury death in the country.[16] Prescription drugs are largely to blame, as 44 people die in America every day from an overdose on prescription pain relievers.[17] In Florida, prescription drugs account for almost 79 percent of all the listed drug occurrences in the first six months of 2014; however, heroin is considered the cause of death almost 90 percent of the time it was present in the system.[18]

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