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Overdoses rise in South Florida as people struggle with isolation from pandemic

By Andrew Boryga, Sun Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

Which is why many recovery advocates said they find it hard to understand why more attention isn't being paid to a long-standing problem that has only continued to worsen despite better accountability on the part of treatment providers.

Joshua Horton, a Palm Beach County lawyer, has made his career representing people struggling with addiction and their families. He said although the state and the region has done a better job of controlling prescription opioid use, the use of street drugs such as fentanyl is "through the roof" and only being exacerbated due to the pandemic. But he said he feels like the issue has taken a backseat.

Nikki Soda, a membership development officer for the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, said she doesn't believe that issues surrounding increased drug use has been completely overlooked, but she did say that, "COVID certainly has the spotlight."

Soda, who is based in Jupiter and works with more than 89 treatment providers in the state, said she has been dismayed by the lack of data around current substance use and overdose deaths. "We're seeing COVID numbers updated regularly."

On a national, state, and local level, she said, much of the data available is from 2018, when the nation experienced its first decline in drug deaths in 30 years and people in South Florida started to believe the region had turned a corner.

 

She said she is confident that when the data from 2019 and 2020 becomes widely available it will likely come as a shock to many who haven't been paying attention to the growing problems hiding behind the pandemic that have been going on all along.

Horton agreed. "It's going to be nasty," he said.

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