Florida is popular among tourists today, thanks to its iconic amusement parks and crowded beaches. However, only a decade ago, the state was a frequent travel destination for a completely different reason: its notorious pill mills.
From as early as the 1990s, Florida’s pill mills were distributing thousands of opioid prescription drugs for cheap—and with no questions asked. For years, virtually nothing was done to combat these unscrupulous distributors, leading to an opiate epidemic that devastated states across the country.
Florida’s dark history with opiates can make it difficult for people seeking addiction treatment. Read on to learn more about the state’s pill mills, and find out where you can seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction safely.
Florida’s Pill Mills: A Brief Overview of Florida’s Opiate Epidemic
The clinics that would become Florida’s pill mills first opened in the 1990s, though they didn’t increase until the early 2000s. As early as 2003, Florida had become the top travel destination for those looking to buy opiates.
For miles, billboards advertised quick and easy relief, attracting thousands of people looking to secure prescription drugs for cheap. After patients from all over the country flocked to Florida and purchased numerous prescriptions, they then brought thousands of pills back home to distribute in their own neighborhoods.
With opiate abuse already a widespread issue in the United States, such unobstructed access to and distribution of pills only exacerbated things, making it easy for those with substance abuse disorders to obtain the dangerous drugs.
Dangerous Practices at the Heart of the Florida Pill Mills
It’s easy to question how pill mills became so widespread in Florida. However, unsavory medical practices were built into the system, allowing clinic owners to profit from the devastating epidemic.
Doctors in Florida weren’t conducting the standard diagnostic work to ensure any prescriptions were necessary. To secure opiates, all a patient had to do was ask. Pill mill doctors would sign prescription after prescription, and patients would be sent to fulfill them at an onsite pharmacy.
In addition to the ease of obtaining a prescription, pill mills also removed another barrier to opiate abuse: the cost.
In Florida, oxycodone and a host of other narcotics were available at as little as $10 per pill, making them remarkably cheaper than what could be found anywhere else in the country—as long as you paid cash. This was a massive contributor to Florida’s opiate epidemic.
Travelers would visit clinic after clinic, often returning home with thousands of pills that could then be sold in their own neighborhoods at an extreme markup. And when they ran out, all they had to do was return to Florida for more.
Pill Mills: Fueling Florida’s Opiate Epidemic
Thanks to the Florida pill mills, it was more accessible than ever for people to get hooked on opiates. With their low prices and virtually no prescription regulations, these clinics were primarily responsible for enabling many people to develop life-changing substance abuse disorders.
By 2010, Florida doctors were by far the leading prescribers of opiates. In just that year, over 500 million pills had been sold in-state. And of the top prescribers in the country that year, 90% of them were Florida-based doctors.
Also, in 2010, the number of deaths in the state that involved prescription opiates reached over 4,000, about four times as many as in 2000. With virtually no regulation or interference from law enforcement, Florida’s pill mills quickly became fuel for the fire that was the nation’s opiate crisis.
Lasting Effects of the Florida Opiate Epidemic
New legislation in 2011 essentially spelled the end of pill mills as they’d been known, though their effects are still prevalent today.
Florida still struggles with its opiate crisis to this day. In 2017, the state was second only to Ohio in opiate-related deaths. Now, related drugs like heroin and the ever-deadly fentanyl rule the streets of Florida, providing those with substance abuse disorders an accessible alternative to opiates.
Body Brokering: The Main Barrier to Addiction Treatment in Florida
If you’re seeking treatment for substance abuse disorders in Florida, you may want to think twice about your choice of location. In the aftermath of the pill mill peak, scammers have found a new way to profit from the opiate epidemic in the form of body brokering.
Body brokering refers to a practice used by some rehab facilities that pay a third party to send patients their way. Known often as the “Florida shuffle,” brokers will look for potential patients whose insurance will cover specific services. These vulnerable patients will then be referred to facilities that are only interested in securing drug-testing fees, not providing a safe space for drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
The Persistent Danger of Body Brokering
Often, those who are seeking treatment for substance abuse disorders are in a vulnerable place. And because finding a suitable addiction treatment facility in Florida can be so overwhelming, prospective patients are easy prey for body brokers.
In many cases, patients will be promised money, drugs, or other incentives to attend these facilities where they receive little to no treatment. Countless testimonies have highlighted the lack of care these patients experience, with many continuing to use drugs during their stay.
Mayflower Recovery: A Safe Place to Overcome Substance Abuse
For those looking for substance abuse treatment, staying out of Florida is essential. Massachusetts’ Mayflower Recovery is a premier facility where patients can get the care they need to overcome their disorder once and for all.
With an expert treatment staff, world-class facilities, and countless amenities, Mayflower Recovery is an ideal place to receive a drug and alcohol detox. Contact Mayflower Recovery today to take the following steps toward overcoming substance abuse.