Boca Raton

The southeastern Florida coast is a picturesque landscape with sweeping ocean beaches and thriving cultural communities. In the midst of this natural beauty, drug activity is also a common threat within Palm Beach County and the city of Boca Raton.

The Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition (PBCSAC) reports that alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, prescription painkillers (most noticeably oxycodone), illicit fentanyl, benzodiazepine medications, and novel synthetic opioids like U-47700 are all drugs of concern in Palm Beach County.

In 2016, close to a third of all addiction treatment admissions in Palm Beach County cited alcohol as their primary drug of abuse, and alcohol was involved in around half of all drug overdose deaths. Among adolescents under age 18 who entered an addiction treatment program in the county in 2016, nearly all (almost 80 percent) reported marijuana as their No. 1 drug of abuse.

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In addition to drug abuse treatment admissions being an indicator of local drug abuse patterns and trends, overdose deaths can help to tell the story as well. In Palm Beach County in 2016, cocaine overdose deaths jumped, after a peak in 2013 and decline in the years to follow, and overdose deaths involving cocaine also regularly involved other drugs like heroin and other opioids.

Heroin overdose deaths in Palm Beach County were higher in the first six months of 2016 than in any other county in Florida, and opioid overdoses, in general, were high as well. In 2016, opioid overdose death rates in Palm Beach County were driven up in part due to the increased presence of the highly potent synthetic drug fentanyl. This drug is being made in illegal laboratories and laced into heroin and counterfeit prescription medications, which is often unknown to the user. Fentanyl was the culprit in 324 overdose deaths in Palm Beach County in 2016.

Close to two-thirds of the 214 cocaine-involved overdose deaths in 2016 involved more than one drug, which was often an opiate. In an attempt to reduce overdose deaths and addiction rates in Boca Raton, various federal, state, and local authorities and agencies offer many prevention, outreach, treatment, and recovery support services on a local level.

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Navigating Drug Abuse Resources in Boca Raton

Often, the first tier of drug abuse and addiction services in a community are prevention, education, and outreach programs. These services work to educate the public on the hazards of drug abuse in an attempt to minimize drug abuse initiation, help community members recognize warning signs, and encourage residents to take proper precautions to reduce potentially dangerous drug misuse.

Within the state of Florida, prevention measures are often funded at a federal or state level, such as the Prevention Partnership Grant (PPG) and the Florida Partnership for Success (PFS). PPG provides funding to host educational programming in local schools while the PFS offers local agencies in Palm Beach County funding to run outreach and public education programs locally.

The Palm Beach Substance Awareness Coalition (PBSAC) is a local entity offering a wide range of resources for residents of the county, including preventative measures. PBSAC runs several task forces, services, and initiatives to address local drug abuse concerns.

  • Opioid Prevention Task Force: This group strives to educate the community on the perils of prescription drug misuse.
  • Underage Drinking Task Force: This organization aims to reduce the number of teens and adolescents consuming alcohol.
  • 85 by 18: This initiative has a goal of reaching an 85 percent sobriety rate for underage teens (below the drinking age of 21) by 2018.
  • Emerging Issues Task Force: This task force keeps the public apprised of new and novel substances making their way into local communities and provides education on these potentially toxic drugs.
  • Pill Drop: This group offers several local locations to dispose of unused and unwanted medications in a safe and secure manner to prevent abuse and diversion of these substances.

Treatment resources in Florida are overseen by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) Program. They then mandate a regional managing entity (ME) who oversees a network of community-based treatment providers offering public healthcare services, such as behavioral health and addiction treatment programs. As Boca Raton is within Palm Beach County, the ME for local residents is the Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network (SEFBHN).

Public drug abuse and addiction treatment services can include assessments, detox, case management, medical treatment, medication management and maintenance, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs, transitional services, and recovery support and aftercare programs.

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Public treatment services are provided in priority order to families with children who may be at risk due to substance abuse concerns in the household, children battling substance abuse, individuals struggling with addiction who have a history of drug abuse by injection, pregnant women, residents who are part of specialty or priority populations, people who require services that are not covered by Medicaid, and those who are 150 percent below federal poverty levels.

Those who do not meet this last financial criteria may still receive services and will pay for treatment on a sliding scale.

Residents of Boca Raton can also seek private addiction treatment services through local providers that offer many services, luxuries, and amenities. The Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator can help locals find licensed treatment facilities. For immediate help, residents can contact 2-1-1 Palm Beach for crisis support and referral to treatment services.

The third tier of treatment resources is recovery support services. There are several local agencies and entities that provide services for families and individuals in recovery in Boca Raton.

Community and Government Response to Local Drug Use

The opioid crisis in Florida has reached epidemic levels. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) publishes that opioid overdose deaths in the state are above national averages. In 2016, about 14.4 Florida residents per 100,000 people died from an overdose involving an opioid drug compared to the national average of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people. In response, state authorities created the Opioid State Targeted Response Project to expand resources and improve prevention, crisis intervention, and treatment models and programs within the state.

The Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association (FADAA) aims to affect policies regarding substance abuse and addiction, reduce stigma, and expand services in the state. Florida also hosts a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) called the Electronic-Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation Program (E-FORCSE).

The goal is to track prescriptions of opioids and other controlled substances to reduce diversion and recognize possible abuse patterns of these potentially dangerous and commonly misused drugs. Expanding the scope of E-FORCSE, the Controlled Substances Bill requires prescribers to undergo continuing education on dispensing these medications, and it also limits the number of prescription opioids that can be dispensed.

Residents in Florida are protected through the Good Samaritan Act when reporting a potential overdose or attempting to reverse one. No one trying to save a life in good faith can face drug-related charges in Florida.

Florida also has a standing order in place for naloxone, so individuals can obtain the potentially lifesaving medication, which helps to overturn an opioid overdose, from any local pharmacy without needing a prescription to get it. First responders and members of the community can receive training on how to safely administer the medication locally as well.

Boca Raton residents have many resources when it comes to getting help for drug abuse and addiction within the community.

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