Where Is the Problem? 7 Florida Drug Abuse Statistics to Know

Last Updated: Dec 29th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Florida is one of the most beautiful and vibrant states in America. It’s also susceptible to America’s growing substance abuse problem.

If you live in Florida, then you’ve seen first hand how drug and alcohol abuse has affected its citizens. Methamphetamine and cocaine abuse has been a storied part of South Florida’s past, but the opiate crisis has begun to trickle down as well.

More and more, we’re seeing good people fall victim to opioids. These drugs are incredibly dangerous and becoming available to anyone looking. Addicts come from different backgrounds and circumstances, but many of the stories end up in the same place.

If you want to keep yourself or your loved ones away from this ending, you’ve got to find them help. In this post, we’re going to give you 7 Florida drug abuse statistics to consider when thinking about the addict(s) in your life.

Some of them may be surprising, some of them won’t be, but all of them will rattle you to your core. Let’s learn more about this problem.

7 Florida Drug Abuse Statistics

Many of the statistics that we’re about to lay out for you put Florida around the National drug abuse average, with slight variation. However, because Florida is such a populous state, a staggering number of Floridians suffer from drug abuse issues. Here are 7 stats to make you take notice.

1. Increase in Synthetic Opioid Deaths Between 2012 and 2017

At this point, we’re all familiar with fentanyl and its devastating effects. The drug seemed to come out of nowhere for the sole purpose of claiming the lives of down-and-out addicts and unsuspecting experimenters.

In 2012, there were only 162 synthetic opioid deaths reported in Florida. By 2017, however, that number went all the way up to 2,126. That’s an increase of over 1600% in a tiny 5-year period. So, why is this happening all of a sudden? 

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent synthetic opioid used in tiny doses to treat chronic pain. Because you only need a small amount to achieve a high, people are using it in a mixture to increase the potency, to devastating effect. This is why you see such a massive increase in deaths over a short period of time.

2. Prescription Opioid Deaths

There’s a lot of concern over big pharma’s involvement in cultivating the opioid crisis in the US. In 2017, there were 1,272 deaths involving prescription opioids, up from 889 in 2014.

It’s frightening to think that addicts are being provided with drugs that can kill them, but that’s often not the case during the initial period. Prescription drugs have been a huge contributor to the opioid problem in Florida and abroad. 

People are being prescribed powerful painkillers for one reason or another. Over the course of the prescription period, patients are becoming addicted to these drugs. Addicts know how to come up with valid reasons why they should get more and certain clinics are obliging. 

3. 410,00 Floridians

In 2013-14, a staggering 410,000 Floridians were found to be dependent on or had used illicit substances within the year. That’s a terrifying number for one state of fifty.

What’s more is that 8% of Florida’s entire population used illicit drugs, which ends up being about 1.5 million people. That 410,00 becomes even more heartbreaking when you consider that it amounts to being nearly 1/3 of the number of people that used drugs in general. 

4. Cocaine Use Still a Problem

For authorities, the focus has nationwide focus has shifted from coke and amphetamines to the opioid crisis, and for good reason. However, despite a slight decrease in growth rate, cocaine is still a big problem in Florida.

According to a report from the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, the number of circumstances where the deceased had cocaine in their system increased from 1,834 in 2015 to 2,882 in 2016. That’s a 57% increase. It further increased in 2017 to 3,129.

Although it’s only a 9% increase from 2016, it’s still an incredible 300 more deaths. 2012 or 64% of those deaths were attributed to a cocaine overdose. We’re far removed from the cocaine cowboy years in Miami, but this is obviously still a huge problem that Floridians are dealing with.

5. NAS

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is a situation that occurs when a pregnant woman uses opioids or other drugs during pregnancy.

Between 2004 and 2014, a study showed an increase from 1.5 cases per 1,000 hospital births to 8 cases per 1,000 hospital births; or a 500% increase. That equals 1 baby born with NAS every 15 minutes in the US. Also, during the same period, the hospital costs for NAS births increased from $91 million to $563 million.

Florida reported 2,320 cases of NAS in 2016, which was a 54% increase from 2012 when there were 1,506 cases. 

6. Underage Drinking Statistics

Underage binge drinking is one of the jumping off points to a life of substance abuse. In Florida, the underage drinking rates have increased over the period between 2015 and 2017, while the national average dropped.

The Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey indicated in 2018 that more underage girls reported having tried alcohol than underage boys (38.9% to 34.1%). This is not consistent with the national average, the rate of underage drinking in boys is slightly higher than that of girls.

7. High Driving

In 2018, Florida reported 422 deaths in collisions where marijuana and other substances was a factor. Cannabis was the most prevalent drug, accounting for 1/3 of the 422, but other substances make up the rest of the other 2/3.

Drugged driving isn’t as big a part of the national conversation as drunk driving is, but it’s rapidly claiming more and more lives as the addiction crisis continues.

How Can You Help?

As you can see, these Florida drug abuse statistics are startling and affecting. Too many people are losing their lives because they aren’t able to find the help that they need. If you’ve got a loved one that you suspect of having a substance abuse problem, make an effort to urge them to get help. 

There are thousands of facilities all over the country, hundreds in Florida alone. First Step Behavioral Health is a great treatment center based out of Pompano Beach. We’ve got inpatient, outpatient, therapy, and detox programs that are affordable and offer the best assistance the state has to offer.

Contact us to make an appointment and visit our blog to read more posts about how you can help yourself or loved ones by seeking out treatment. It’s never too late to turn your life around.








Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.