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Drug Addiction in South Florida

Drug abuse has always plagued the coastal cities and beach resort towns of Southern California. With all the tourists and partygoers, the area is a magnet for hedonism and excess. According to a 2010 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 8.32% of Floridians had used illicit drugs in the past month.

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Why Is Drug Abuse Rampant in South Florida?

In South Florida, drug use exceeds the state and national averages because of multiple factors. With its cluster of big cities that draw millions of tourists each year, people have looser attitudes when they hit places like Miami and West Palm Beach. With the large influx of international travelers, countless people bring drugs to the area. The main things that drive the local drug craze include:

  • Parties – Cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton are party towns that draw lots of college-age revelers in the spring and summer months. This opens the floodgates to lots of wild, unbridled behavior, including recreational drug use. Drugs like ecstasy and cocaine are popular at these hedonistic events.
  • Access – Big cities have numerous access points to illicit drugs. In South Florida, the coasts are lined with large cities full of locals and visitors who both love to party. Being coastal towns, there are tons of drugs pouring in from dealers overseas. The seedier aspects of local urban life also feed into the problem.
  • Tourists – South Florida has multiple tourist meccas. People come from across the US and overseas to revel in the area’s sunny beaches and late-night party spots. When people come from out of town, they tend to act more raw and uninhibited than they would at home. This attitude fuels shameless drug use.
  • Crime – Like all big US cities, places like Miami and Fort Lauderdale are hotbeds of criminal activity. The problem is fueled by local as well as outside forces, the latter being more prevalent here than in other parts of the country because South Florida is both coastal and close to Central and South America. This feeds heavily into the local drug epidemic.
  • Cartels – Florida is a major go-to part of the US for drug cartels from Central and South America. Dealers from Mexico and Columbia often descend here to sell drugs to the locals. These drugs flood the black market and disperse through the club and party scenes. They also spread through the impoverished parts of the big Floridian cities.
  • Poverty – Drugs have long been a plague on poor communities, especially those in cities with tons of crime and drug flow. In poor neighborhoods, drugs are often seen as a means of escape. Some people use drugs for euphoric feelings, as this helps them escape the misery of daily life. Others deal drugs because they see it as quick, easy cash.

Numerous ramifications play into the US drug epidemic. In South Florida, these factors are more intense because it’s easy to smuggle drugs to the area, which has a willing and eager market for recreational drugs. People from all walks of life — from affluent, traveling partygoers to poor, downtrodden locals — are affected by the plague.

What Are the Most Common Drugs in South Florida?

On the streets of South Florida, people can find all sorts of drugs. People obtain drugs in the alleys and the dark corners of nightclubs.

  • Cocaine – Cocaine is a popular party drug that acts as a stimulant. Users take the drug for energy and euphoric feelings. Cocaine is typically snorted; this often causes nosebleeds. It’s addictive because it triggers the brain’s reward centers. Cocaine became the drug of choice during the 1970s disco era and continues to thrive in clubbing hotbeds like South Florida.
  • Heroin – Heroin is a depressant drug that causes users to feel euphoric and relaxed. It’s addictive because it alters how the brain sends pleasure signals to the body. People take heroin to let loose but quickly grow addicted to its numbing effects on the body. People who suffer physical pain use it as an anesthetic, but this causes tolerance to the drug, which leads to hardcore addiction.
  • Methamphetamine – Speed is another stimulant drug that people take at clubs and parties. The drug exploded in the 1970s rock scene and is closely tied to the punk movement. Many rock stars were notorious speed freaks because it allowed them to stay awake for nights and days on end. This was deemed necessary for grueling tours and costly studio sessions.
  • Marijuana – Marijuana is a natural substance that comes from the leaves of the hemp plant. It has been illegal at the federal level to cultivate hemp since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, many states have decriminalized hemp. It remains controversial because, despite its medicinal benefits, hemp can stunt brain development.
  • Fentanyl – In recent years, fentanyl has become one of the most widespread drugs across the US. Like heroin, fentanyl is a downer drug that causes mellowness and euphoria. Small traces of fentanyl are used in prescription painkillers. Fentanyl is twice as strong as heroin and often deadly on first use. The drug has gotten cheap due to mixed concoctions, like fentanyl+sugar combos.
  • Ecstasy – MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly, has been a popular drug at clubs and raves since the early 1990s. Ecstasy gives users a mix of euphoria, energy and trippy effects. People who are into the bright lights of nightlife often have enhanced visual and musical experiences while on the drug. 

Different drugs appeal to different demographics. In the poor neighborhoods of South Florida, heroin and fentanyl are popular because the mellowing, euphoric effects help people forget about squalor, poverty and boredom. In the affluent club scenes of Miami and nearby cities, drugs like ecstasy are popular because kids enjoy colorful, trippy experiences.

Why Do People Use Drugs in South Florida?

People take drugs for multiple reasons. Some people lead full and happy lives but wish for the buzz and energy of certain stimulants and hallucinogens. Others lead dull, miserable lives and seek out drugs that have escapist effects. For others, sadness lurks behind drug use.

  • Thrills – For young people, recreational drug use is all about the excitement and thrill of the “trip” or the “buzz” and all it’s cracked up to be. Few college-age partygoers anticipate addiction when they take that first hit. Unfortunately, youth often do get hooked on the second or third try, if not the first. Recreational drugs are even more dangerous when mixed with alcohol.
  • Euphoria – A lot of people, young and middle-aged, take certain drugs for the euphoric effects. Few people plan to get hooked; they think they’ll take these drugs in moderation, just like wine in social settings. However, once a drug like cocaine or heroin affects the brain’s limbic system, addiction takes hold before the user realizes it.
  • Trauma – Recreational drug use is one thing; addictive behavior is another. People heavily steeped in the latter often have psychological issues at play. In many cases, it’s down to childhood trauma. For people with deep-seated baggage caused by childhood abandonment or sexual abuse, drugs help anethestize the anguish. 
  • Stress – People take certain drugs, downers in particular, to relieve stress. Some people have problems with work and bills and use heroin to calm their nerves. Others fall into blue mental states over domestic and financial problems; drugs like heroin and fentanyl are often pitched as quick emotional remedies.
  • Domestic problems – Domestic troubles are often tied to drug use. In some homes, families get torn apart by one member’s drug use. In others, people take drugs to distract themselves from all the abuse and noise of warring family members. Either way, drug abuse often leads to domestic flare-ups, 911 calls and police raids.
  • Poverty – Drugs are prevalent on the streets of cities like Miami, where homeless strips are often lined with drug paraphernalia. Some people fall on hard times and see drugs as their sole salvation. Others fall on hard times as a direct result of drug abuse. Some people end up homeless because they spend all their earnings on drugs. 

Most of the worst instances of drug abuse are in the poor, under-policed, downtrodden parts of South Florida where crime runs rampant and dealers roam everywhere. However, things can also spiral downward in the affluent parts of town due to recreational drug use. Sometimes, partygoers and influencers get hooked on drugs and blow their health, credit and social standing.

Substance Use and Mental Disorders in South Florida

Addictive behavior often stems from co-occurring mental health disorders. In South Florida, people struggle with various demons. The young partygoers worry about their prospects and social media clout. Poor and downtrodden people often struggle with the trauma of all the horrors they’ve witnessed (murders, rapes, beatings) in crime-ridden communities. 

  • Depression – A major aggravator for drug addiction is depression, which makes people feel despondent about their prospects. People who fall on hard times and face insurmountable odds often take drugs to help ease the pain and distract the mind. Sad episodes, such as the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship also lead some people to drugs.
  • Body dysmorphia – Over the last quarter century, people have grown increasingly dysmorphic. Men think they have to be ripped, bodybuilding Chads to attract women and women think they have to be corseted hourglass Staceys to attract men. People do all sorts of unhealthy things to get unrealistic bodies. Some resort to drugs to alter their bodies and suppress hunger and insecurity.
  • Anxiety – Irrational fears and phobias are common among people who struggle with drug addiction. Some people get hooked on downers to suppress anxiety. Alcohol is another big vice among people who constantly worry about things. When people detox from drugs, anxiety is one of the major withdrawal symptoms.
  • Schizophrenia – Some people lose their grip on reality when addiction takes hold. Other people have a faulty grip from the start and drugs send them overboard. Drugs can cause some people to suffer illusions and delusions about themselves and the world around them. The saddest cases are those where drugs cause schizophrenia, which is incurable.
  • Personality disorders – Drug abuse ties to various mental disorders, such as agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, misanthropy, anti-social disorder, intermittent explosive disorder and other problems. Downers suppress these moods but slow the heart to dangerous crawls. These same states flare up tenfold when a drug user is cut from his/her supply.

In South Florida and other parts of the US, drug rehab centers offer counseling for various mental health disorders. Doctors now understand that drug addiction is a physical and mental illness; not a moral problem. 

In rehab counseling, patients undergo dual diagnosis therapy, where the counselor helps the patient identify his/her deep-seated demons and come to terms with them. This makes it easier to conquer drug addiction.

Binge Alcohol Drinking in South Florida

The drug problem in South Florida is somewhat driven by binge drinking, especially among college-age partiers. Binge drinking is the excess consumption of alcohol in a single setting, such as 4-5 drinks (men) or 3-4 drinks (women) in under two hours. People in the 18-20 age group (and often younger) binge drink to avoid getting caught.  

Binge drinking doesn’t lead straight to alcoholism but it can make people very sick and nauseous. It’s most dangerous when people take hard drugs and binge drink at the same time. In some instances, people die on their first night out from combinations of contradictory drugs (cocaine + heroin = speedball) and vast quantities of alcohol.

Find Help in South Florida for Drug Addiction

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Drug addiction is a horrible thing for anyone to struggle with at any age. Regardless of class, income, personality or the drug in question, everyone should have the opportunity to lead a happy, sober life. 

In South Florida, rehab centers offer help for all types of drug addictions. If someone you know struggles with addictions, call the nearby rehab centers in Florida and ask about their treatment programs and financing options. Your call could change someone’s life.

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