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Florida Rids Its Status as the Pill Mill Capital

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The cost increase of street prescription opiate pills has led addicts to use heroin instead. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that heroin deaths, which had declined in the state for a decade, went up in 2011. The 18.2 percent increase in heroin deaths coincided with the crackdown on pain clinics in Florida, which may have sent some opiate addicts to heroin.

Florida Pill Mills Get Busted

Pain clinics spread quickly in Florida. People who didn’t have any background in the medical field found ways to capitalize on this business venture. Strip mall storefronts were used where doctors dispensed prescriptions with few examinations. Patients came from other states by the vanload. Florida lawmakers started to crack down on the pill mills in 2010. Laws to track prescription drugs were passed and strike forces aimed at the pain clinics were formed. By early 2012, the crackdown has declared a success, with more than 2,000 arrests and hundreds of pain clinics shuttered across the state.

Is Oxycodone the Gateway Drug to Heroin?

But the crackdown on pill mills helped turn oxycodone into a gateway drug for heroin addiction. Less availability of pain pills has increased the street price, while heroin remains relatively affordable. Addicts are financially forced to make the switch. Florida doctors have noted an increase in clients addicted to heroin, with many addicts claiming they moved from prescription opiate pain pills to heroin because it’s cheaper. Many addicts risked the switch to cheaper dope (heroin) to avoid the pitfalls of withdrawal. Opiate withdrawal is uncomfortable and the sickness is unbearable. Even people who legitimately needed pain medication have turned to cheaper alternatives because of the crackdown on pain clinics.

The Risk

The problem that doctors and addiction specialists are worried about is that while prescription pain pills are monitored for potency, there is no way of knowing the potency of street drugs. Prescription painkillers are made in labs that measure and monitor ingredients. Street drug dealers cut pure heroin with numerous ingredients, including sleep aids, baby powder, laxatives, violin wax, and baking powder,  just to name a few. These additives can have additional effects on the user and change the potency of the heroin. This is why some people overdose or die.

Florida Drug Rehab

The heyday of pain clinics followed by the switch to street drugs has caused addiction treatment admissions to grow. Stepping Stone Center for Recovery, a Florida drug rehab, has also witnessed and been part of the rehabilitation of prescription pain pill and heroin addicts. Our treatment center is equipped to help you comfortably detox off opiates while addressing chronic pain issues.


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