Twice a year, the Florida Medical Examiners Commission releases a comprehensive report outlining the number of drug-related fatalities across the state on a county-by-county basis. While this report garnered relatively few headlines in the not-so-distant past, this has changed in recent years given our state's well-documented and persistent problems with prescription opioids and heroin.
As it turns out, the latest version of the report, released just a few weeks ago, reveals that these problems are particularly acute here in Orange County and that those struggling with opioid addiction are now turning to an even more dangerous drug.
The medical examiners report made the following shocking discoveries:
- There were 4,682 fatal overdoses in Florida during the first half of 2015, a 14 percent increase from the same timeframe in 2014.
- Orange County tied with Osceola County for the highest number of morphine-related and fentanyl-related fatalities in the state during the first half of 2015.
- Orange County tied with Osceola County for the second highest number of heroin-related fatalities in the state during the first half of 2015.
For those unfamiliar with fentanyl, it is a prescription opioid roughly 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than heroin that is typically administered via a patch.
Over the last few years, the demand on the street for fentanyl has become so pronounced that more and more dealers have actually taken to manufacturing it themselves, often mixing their otherwise impure creations with heroin at truly dangerous levels.
As to why places like Orange County continue to endure such problems with these types of drugs, some experts attribute it to more mundane causes like population growth while still others continue to point to the state's recent crackdowns on pill mills.
Specifically, they contend that those struggling with opioid addictions turned to street drugs like heroin in the wake of the closure of pill mills, while those whose addictions were stronger or worsened over time increasingly gravitated to fentanyl.
We will continue to address this topic in our next post, examining two very important -- and non-punitive -- measures that government officials have taken to help combat the opioid epidemic here in Orange County and across the Sunshine State.
Distribution of drugs that results in a death can subject a person to murder charges, even if the drug was given to a friend. Drug charges can have serious consequences. If you've been charged with possession of drugs or prescription fraud, it's important to consult with a lawyer.
At The Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A., we are committed to more than just protecting the freedom and future of clients facing these types of charges, we're also committed to helping them secure the help they need.