While crack cocaine exploded in our faces in the late 1980s, South Florida’s heroin and prescription opioid epidemic of this decade has become more of a stealth attack on our community, killing more than 260 people in Miami-Dade and Broward County in 2012 alone.
The first glimpse of the 2013 death toll will be released in a few weeks. These grim statistics reveal that drugs in the 21st century have become more dangerous, more addictive and more deadly than any other period in our lifetimes.
As the death of University of Maryland basketball all-star Len Bias in 1986 alerted a nation to the crack-cocaine crisis, the recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman has helped expose hundreds of heroin epidemics breaking out across America.
As a recovering heroin addict with 35 years of abstinence, I have seen this new epidemic emerging over the past few years on the streets of Miami, fueled by rampant abuse of narcotic prescription pain relievers. Accordingly, I have spent that time attempting to establish a specialized, long-term residential program to house and help these young addicts recover and learn to provide for themselves in a therapeutic community to be known as Marvin’s Corner.
With help from my friends and the support and guidance of key political leaders including Mayor Carlos Gimenez, County Commissioners Audrey Edmonson, Xavier Suarez and Esteban Bovo Jr., we have located a facility to provide shelter and a healing environment for those otherwise doomed to die from their addictions.
Marvin’s Corner will operate without any government or public funding, all the while building self-reliance in members of the therapeutic community. Clients will stay months or years — or for as long as it takes — rather than be limited to a 28-day mandate. We are almost there, but what still is needed is the approval of the full County Commission and the support from a community ready to reach out and save at least one life a day.
Jon Schmidt, founder,
Therapeutic Community, Miami