Does Florida Have a Drug Problem?

Yes, like so many other states in the U.S., Florida is dealing with a major drug crisis in multiple regions throughout its boundaries. As a southern border state, Florida is used as a conduit for many types of illicit drugs entering the country, contributing to a rise in local drug trafficking and use.

Read on to learn more about Florida’s drug problem, including information on the worst drug cities in Florida, addiction statistics, Florida rehab treatment options, and more.

Florida as a Drug Gateway

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Drug Threat Assessment for 2016, Florida is a major gateway for drug traffickers to get illicit drugs into the country. This includes both major drug traffickers and gangs from:

  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • The Caribbean

The types of drugs that are generally brought in by these organizations include cocaine, marijuana, and heroin, as well as ecstasy and club drugs. This high level of trafficking through the state is one of the reasons that drug use is so prevalent there. However, there are other reasons as well.

While areas like New England and New York/New Jersey have higher rates of prescription drug abuse, this is still an issue for Florida, compounding the issues that result in high drug use and overdose rates in Florida.

While the DEA report demonstrates that prescription drug problems are relatively stable in Florida as compared to the rest of the country, when added to the illicit drug issues, prescription drug abuse contributes to the drug crisis that is boiling over in the state.

Florida Drug Statistics in Specific Counties

In 2021, there were more than 107,000 fatal overdoses reported in the U.S. An estimated 8% (or 8,257) of those deaths occurred in Florida.1,2

Drug intoxication is the leading cause of violent or “accidental” deaths in the state. In 2021, the number of fatal drug overdoses exceeded the total number of suicides and fatal car accidents—combined.2

Recent data helps identify some of the hardest-hit areas and Florida cities with the highest drug problems:

  • In 2021, Volusia County, which is home to Daytona Beach, had the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in the state. This was followed by Pasco and Pinellas counties, which are in the Tampa Bay area.2
  • A district encompassing Escambia (home to the city of Pensacola, FL), Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties had the third-highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in the state in 2021.2
  • Pinellas County contains the city of St. Petersburg, which has one of the worst drug problems in Florida.2  
  • From January 2021–June 2021, medical examiners found fentanyl in 366 fatal overdose cases in St. Petersburg—the most in the state. Fentanyl was determined to be the cause of death in 96% of those cases.3
  • Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville had the second- and third-highest number of fentanyl-related deaths, with 320 and 312 fatal overdoses respectively.3
  • From January 2021–June 2021, medical examiners found cocaine in 237 fatal overdose cases in Miami—the most in the state. Multiple drugs were involved in over 89% of those cases.3
  • Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and St. Petersburg also had high numbers of cocaine-related deaths, during that same time period.3
  • From January 2021–June 2021 in St. Petersburg, there were 193 meth-involved deaths, the highest number in the state. This was followed by Jacksonville and Pensacola, with 142 and 124 fatal overdoses respectively.3

Commonly Misused Drugs in Florida

The trends of drug use and misuse in Florida mirror those unfolding across the country. In 2021, the most commonly used and abused substances in the state included:3

Of those substances, the ones that caused the most deaths were (in descending order):3

  • Fentanyl.
  • Cocaine.
  • Methamphetamine.
  • Alcohol.

Across Florida, deaths involving methamphetamine or “meth” increased by 40% in the first half of 2021.3

The state has also seen a sharp rise in the presence of fentanyl analogs and in fatal overdose cases.3

Finding Addiction Treatment in Florida

There is a wide range of addiction treatment services that can be found to help with substance abuse and addiction in the state of Florida; however, not all treatment is the same. Treatment programs that offer research-based treatment plans that are developed and implemented by experienced addiction treatment professionals are most likely to help individuals who are struggling.

When seeking substance abuse treatment, it is important to make sure that the program in question will provide a customized treatment plan that takes into account and demonstrates experience in:

  • The individual’s health and specific social situation
  • The drug being abused
  • The severity of the addiction
  • Relapse risk
  • Co-occurring mental or physical health conditions

When these elements are factored into the treatment plan, the individual is more likely to be able to stop drug use and develop the tools and skills needed to maintain recovery for the months and years following treatment. Treatment shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all experience; it should be customized to the unique needs of each individual.

At River Oaks Treatment Center, our inpatient rehab near Tampa, we are ready to help you overcome addiction and find long-term recovery. Call us today at to learn more about addiction treatment near you.

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