Drug Overdoses on the Rise in Florida

Spilled pill bottle on table top with a spoon underneath


According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses are on the rise in Florida. Specifically, the death toll rose by about 37 percent from 2019 to 2020 in Florida.

One of the most notable trends was the amount of synthetic opioid fentanyl in Florida and how so many people have become dependent upon drugs to cope with the COVID pandemic and economic hardship.

In fact, of all the drug overdoses in the United States in 2020, eight percent of them happened in Florida. A total of 92,183 drug overdoses were reported by December 2020 in the United States. Only two states saw percent decreases in drug overdoses: South Dakota and New Hampshire.

“Addiction is literally wiping out my entire generation and the next generation at this point,” said Stephen Sundquist with Clean Recovery Centers.


Florida Democratic Rep. Kelly Skidmore (D-81) told Florida Politics she feels a greater conversation needs to take place around the stigma of substance abuse.

“We always tend to look at it as some kind of moral failing or an ethical lapse as opposed to a medical condition of addiction,” Skidmore said. “I think that a lot of things contributed to where we are and for me, the solution going forward is shifting the perception of what substance use disorder is and how it is related to mental health issues as well.”

With fentanyl being one of the main drivers of substance abuse in the United States, many have looked to drug trafficking across the southern border as one of the main sources of a new influx in the highly addictive opioid.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spent the weekend visiting the southern border and pointed out the large quantities of drugs pouring into the United States.

“In the last month alone, 1,050 lbs. of the deadly narcotic fentanyl was seized at the southwest border,” said DeSantis. “This is enough to kill 72% of the U.S. population. Approximately 27 times more fentanyl was seized in June 2021 compared to June 2018.”

Many are pinning the issues at the southern border on President Joe Biden’s lax approach. In fact, Vice President Kamala Harris said one of the “root causes” of the influx of illegal immigrants and drug trafficking is climate change.

“I’m thinking of corruption, violence and poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience, the lack of good governance,” Harris said in May.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips. 






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