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Brandon, Florida, is part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and an unincorporated community within Hillsborough County. Florida is currently in the midst of an opioid overdose pandemic, as Governor Rick Scott declared the crisis a public health emergency in May 2017, NBC News publishes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists Florida as having one of the most statistically significant spikes in drug overdose deaths in the United States, as overdose fatalities rose almost one-quarter in 2015 compared to 2014 deaths.
Heroin-related deaths have drastically increased in Hillsborough County. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the first half of 2015 saw a 700 percent increase in the number of heroin-involved overdose fatalities among its residents. The Miami New Times reports increases in both heroin and fentanyl-involved deaths for the first six months of 2016 as well: a 25 percent increase in heroin-related fatalities and a 135 percent rise in fentanyl-involved deaths within the state.
Heroin is a powerful illegal opiate, likely trafficked up from Columbia by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and into the nearby port city of Tampa. Fentanyl is even more potent than heroin, and DTOs are able to synthesize it in clandestine labs and smuggle it, or other opioid analogues like carfentanil, in from other countries. These drugs are deadly in very small amounts and may be being passed off as other opioid drugs like prescription opioids or heroin, which increases the odds for fatal overdose. Controlled prescription drugs have abuse risks as well, and the Central Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDITA) Drug Market Analysis 2011 reports that these substances were considered to be the number one drug threat for the region.
Hillsborough County has a higher than average rate of accidental deaths and injuries compared to the state overall, the Hillsborough County Health Department 2010/2011 Community Health Profile (CHP) indicates. This includes both unintentional overdose deaths and motor vehicle crashes as well as injuries and accidents from other sources.
Hillsborough county residents die more often from alcohol-related causes, according to 2015 numbers, than those in other Florida counties do, the Profile of Alcohol and Drug Indicators for Hillsborough County, Florida publishes. Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for Hillsborough county residents. More people within this county are involved in alcohol-related crashes and arrested for DUIs than in other Florida counties. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Report: Metro Brief that includes the MSA that Brandon, Florida, falls into reports that in 2011, about a quarter of its adult residents engaged in binge drinking in the month prior to the survey, which is comparable to state and national averages.
Marijuana use is higher among Hillsborough students than statewide averages, the Profile of Alcohol and Drug Indicators for Hillsborough County, Florida indicates.
Alcohol and marijuana were the top two cited primary substances of abuse for Hillsborough County residents admitted into addiction treatment programs during the fiscal year (FY) 2014/2015.
Addiction and mental health treatment programs are offered by local treatment providers in Brandon, Florida. Both addiction and mental health concerns are considered to fall into the behavioral health category.
Residents in Hillsborough County, Florida (of which the city of Brandon is included) accessed mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders treatment at rates higher than state averages, the Hillsborough County Health Department 2010/11 CHP reports. Suicide rates were slightly higher in Hillsborough County than in Florida on average, as 180 people committed suicide in 2009.
On average, Floridians suffer from serious mental illness (SMI) about as often as national averages suggest; the Florida annual state average for 2013-2014 was 3.7 percent while the national average was 4.2 percent, according to the Behavioral Health Barometer: Florida, 2015.
Rates of addiction involving alcohol and illicit drugs were also similar for Florida residents when compared to national averages (6 percent of Florida adults versus a 6.5 percent national average for alcohol addiction, and 2.4 percent of Florida adults versus a 2.6 percent national average for addiction involving illicit drugs). Prescription drugs, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, and heroin are all drugs of concern in Brandon, Florida, and Hillsborough County.
Legislation to control overdoses, particularly those related to opioids, is important to both the prevention and crisis management components of drug abuse plaguing Florida. Laws such as the Good Samaritan law, for example, help to protect people reporting an overdose from drug-related charges. This law also serves to protect people who administer the overdose-reversal drug Narcan (naloxone) from liability. Narcan is carried by many first responders in Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay area, and it is available to residents without a prescription from local pharmacies, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
“Florida participates in involuntary commitment for both substance abuse concerns and mental health issues, allowing family members to seek help for loved ones who may be unable to do so on their own.”
Florida also has a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), E-FORCSE (Electronic-Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation), which helps medical providers to recognize potential patterns of prescription drug abuse and diversion.
The Marchman Act involves involuntary commitment to treatment for significant substance abuse issues while the Baker Act does the same for mental health concerns.
Another method of entering the treatment field is through a court-ordered mandate. In Florida, there are close to 100 drug courts that help to divert individuals who have been charged with a drug-related, nonviolent offense into a treatment program instead of into prison. Often, these programs allow for shortened sentences or even dropped charges upon completion.
Marijuana is a top drug of abuse in Florida, and it is still considered illegal for recreational use. Many law enforcement departments, such as the one in Tampa, are offering lesser charges for low-level marijuana possession arrests, providing individuals the chance to get help for their problematic drug abuse instead of sending them to jail, WFLA publishes. Involuntary treatment can as beneficial as voluntary treatment methods, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports.
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Treatment for substance abuse, addiction, and mental health concerns are localized in the state of Florida. This means that public treatment programs are provided on a community-based level. The single state authority (SSA) on substance abuse and addiction treatment in Florida is the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) within the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). Community-based treatment providers are subcontracted through one of seven regional Managing Entities (MEs). The ME for Brandon, Florida, is the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network, Inc. (CHBFN).
Brandon is housed within Circuit 10 and the Suncoast region where the CHBFN has 64 local subcontracted providers for services. If an individual needs help for substance abuse or addiction, they may choose between any of these providers and services. Services are provided on a “sliding scale,” where fees are set depending on how much a person can afford to pay. Public addiction treatment programs are open to everyone regardless of their financial status or ability to pay for services.Community-based providers managed by the DCF can provide the following types of services for Brandon, Florida, residents:
Within these programs, individuals can receive assessments, case management, counseling, life skills training, parenting classes, medical and clinical support, transitional housing, and peer-based individual and group counseling services. Private programs may offer more services, programs, and amenities. Public mental health treatment services are privatized in Brandon, Florida, and provided through local Mental Health Offices and nonprofit Community Mental Health Centers that are overseen by the Florida Department of Children and Families Mental Health Program Office.
Behavioral health services are typically broken down between prevention and crisis services, treatment services, and recovery services. Preventative measures are typically handled by community-based and nonprofit providers and coalitions, including the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance (HCADA), the Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association (FADAA), the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition, and Tobacco-Free Florida.
Mental health resources for the county are outlined by the nonprofit NAMI Hillsborough. Crisis services are provided through the Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find treatment for mental health and/or addiction concerns within Brandon, Florida, residents can search the database of Licensed Substance Abuse Providers provided by Florida DCF, or use Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.
In Florida, treatment providers that offer public services, which are often funded by grants, federal, or local governments, are required to be licensed by the state. Recovery support resources, such as transitional housing options, can be found in the List of Certified Recovery Residences provided by DCF. Peer-based, 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have local resources, which can be found through the Tri-County Central Office for Hillsborough County and via the Tampa Funcoast Area Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
There are many diverse treatment options available for residents of Brandon, Florida, allowing them to improve their overall quality of life and manage their behavioral health concerns.
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