Why it’s so hard to break an opioid addiction
A new report urges Miami-Dade to take action against what statistics show is a rapidly worsening scourge of opioid addiction across the county.
The findings of the county’s Opioid Addiction Task Force urge Miami-Dade to secure dollars to provide free methadone, a drug that reduces withdrawal symptoms for addicts, as well fund more beds for homeless addicts and boost addiction training for first responders and healthcare providers.
To back up the call for urgency, the report included some numbers describing Miami-Dade’s problem with opioids — an umbrella term that includes both heroin and legal, high-strength painkillers like OxyContin.
Some of the statistics:
▪ The problem is getting much worse: In 2013, 58 people died of opioid poisoning in Miami-Dade. Last year, that figure soared nearly 300 percent to 229.
▪ Opioid addiction is a growing problem for people in their mid 20s and early 30s. That age set experienced a 98 percent increase in opioid deaths in 2016 from 2015.
▪ Men are far more likely to be addicted to opioids than are women. Men accounted for 70 percent of all opioid deaths in Miami-Dade last year.
▪ Opioid addiction is much more of a problem for non-Hispanic whites in Miami-Dade than for any other ethnic group. Between 2005 and 2016, the death rate for opioid addiction among non-Hispanic whites was 10 per 100,000. That’s more than three times greater than for Hispanics (3 per 100,000) and four times greater than for non-Hispanic blacks (2.3 per 100,000).
▪ Heroin deaths in Miami-Dade hit a record in 2015, with 83 recorded cases. That’s up from just 11 in 2011.