Long before the opioid crisis would make national headlines, communities in Palm Beach, Florida, have been struggling with opioid misuse and addiction. By 2017, the number of opioid-related deaths among people aged 25 to 34 in Palm Beach County was more than double the national average. Now, after decades of battling opioid addiction, positive results are starting to show.
Fire-rescue responses to opioid-related overdoses dropped more than 20% in the first half of 2019 and were 61% fewer when compared to two years ago. In a similar, positive trend there were 40% fewer opioid-related deaths in 2018 in Palm Beach County.
Public officials and residents alike are thrilled about the progress but authorities are not backing off of their efforts. They’ve seen firsthand what the opioid epidemic looks like and remain vigilant to maintain the efforts against opioid addiction.
Causes For Positive Trends
With such dramatic gains against the opioid crisis, local governments, public officials and stakeholders want to know: how did Palm Beach accomplish these breakthroughs? What happened is that public officials worked together to employ a three-pronged strategic approach.
Clean Up Of Illegitimate Treatment and Rehab Centers
First, Palm Beach County created a County Sober Home Task Force to crack down on rogue sober-living homes and illegitimate drug treatment centers. Ensuring that people who were seeking safe centers to maintain their sobriety are only placed in legitimate centers with trained professionals has improved the quality of care and made a huge difference.
The county also increased the availability of Narcan. Narcan, a potentially life-saving drug, was previously only available primarily to first responders. By increasing access, Palm Beach multiplied the odds that someone could be revived from an opioid-related overdose.
Drug Rehab Aftercare
Another effective effort was to increase access to drug rehab aftercare. Taking a proactive approach, Palm Beach took steps to make it more likely that someone who overdosed or is seeking treatment will get follow-up care with medically assisted treatment— rather than simply being released from the emergency room without a plan or intervention.
New Resource Website
It’s not just Palm Beach that’s working hard to reduce and respond to opioid addiction. On September 20, 2019, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the launch of a new website: DoseOfRealityFL.com. The new website will serve as a resource for families and individuals who are struggling with substance abuse and looking for help. Visitors to the site can get links to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings and educational resources.
The new resource website is part of a larger effort to help people struggling with substance misuse and prevent further addiction. As communities learn more about effective opioid overdose prevention strategies, it’s possible that the progress made in Palm Beach will be a common story.
If you or a loved one struggle with opioid addiction, getting treatment can set you on a sustained path to recovery. Reach out to The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to take the first step and learn about treatment options.
Meredith, Michelle. “Attorney General Moody unveils new website to help fight Florida’s opioid crisis.” Wesh2, September 20, 2019. Accessed October 13, 2019.
Weber, Chuck. “Opioid numbers down again, but fight not over, says prosecutor.” CBS12, September 19, 2019. Accessed October 13, 2019.
Live Stories Statistics. “Palm Beach County Opioid Death Statistics.” Accessed October 13, 2019.