Heroin’s Popularity Increasing in Florida After Crackdowns on OxyContin
There are a number of factors that drive a drug’s popularity – two of which are price and availability. As doctors and pharmacies in Florida crack down on issuing opiate analgesics such as OxyContin, those misusing the drugs are turning to cheaper and easier alternatives, such as heroin.Per news from the Miami Herald, a small but significant increase in heroin substitutions has been noted by rehabilitation specialists working in the Miami-Dade County. Dr. Patricia Junquera, a doctor working in the detox unit of Jackson Memorial Hospital says she’s had patients admit to her aloud that the reason they’ve turned to heroin is because of problems obtaining Oxycodone.
Dr. Junquera, who also serves as an assistant psychiatry professor at the University of Miami, states that during the first half of last year she had probably observed about a 50 percent spike in the number of patients using heroin.
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report from 2011 claimed that, of drug-related mortalities, those related to heroin had spiked by almost 20 percent. The majority of those deaths originated in Orlando (18 cases) and Miami (15 cases), but a handful also occurred in Fort Lauderdale (3 cases). And while heroin-related deaths have been on the decline over the past decade, the recent up creep has Florida authorities concerned.
Because of its problem with pill mills and abuse, the sunshine state had instituted new measures to combat the misappropriation of prescription drugs. In June of 2011, the state’s governor approved legislation to more closely monitor prescriptions issued and filled by doctors, pain clinics, pharmacies, and other distributors. This resulted in fewer groups such as pill mills supplying the drugs, which has caused the price of prescription opioids to increase.
According to Dr. Juan Oms who serves as the medical director of Miami Outpatient Detox, the price of Oxycodone is now nearly triple that of some varieties of heroin.