Sunday, March 24, 2019

Drug Abuse Awareness:

What You Should Know

By now you’ve probably heard of a little drug called fentanyl. It’s a potent opioid typically prescribed as a strong pain medication. In recent years, news reports of overdoses from the highly addictive drug have spiked on both national and local levels.

Drug abuse and addiction can affect teenagers, grandparents, teachers, doctors, moms and dads. Addiction has no preferred demographic or socioeconomic background. It can happen to anyone.

This article aims to take a look at overdoses and what the public should know about their responsibilities in reporting them. We’ll also discuss what Marco Island as community can do to prevent drug abuse on a local level.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2015 and 2016 Florida saw a statistically significant increase in drug overdose death rates. Their data states that in 2016, 4,728 Floridians died due to overdose. Last year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducted a health profile for Collier County. They found per 100,000 residents, 13 die as a result of drug overdose.

At this moment in time, fentanyl happens to be a popular drug of choice. However, it’s just one of many addictive substances that if taken recreationally, can cause death.

In the United States, heroin use is on a steady incline. Between 2010 and 2016, heroin-related deaths grew by more than five times. In 2016, 15,500 people died as a result of the synthetic opioid.

Drugs in Collier County

In order to better understand drug abuse in Collier County, the Collier County Sherriff’s office has implemented the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), a federal program developed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy High Intensity Drug Trafficking. ODMAP will help officers better understand how to respond to overdoses, trafficking, addiction, and drug-related crimes.

How Does the ODMAP Work?

Every time a deputy responds to a suspected heroin overdose he/she reports the information into a database via their computer or cellphone. The information is immediately populated and added to an electronic map with dots indicating the location of the suspected overdose, if the overdose was fatal, and whether Narcan, a medicine used in emergency overdose situations, was used.

According to Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, ODMAP “will alert law enforcement and public safety officials to overdose spikes caused by a bad batch of drugs, or a new and growing supply of drugs entering our community.”

Overdose Laws

Florida is among a handful states that have what is called drug-induced homicide laws, crimes that involve the delivering of drugs that results in death. Other states share similar laws that allow the drug distributor, which is a loosely defined term, to be held criminally accountable for the death of a drug user.

To put this in perspective, imagine that two friends are hanging out and decide to do fentanyl together. One friend dies of an overdose. The other friend involved could be charged with involuntary or voluntary manslaughter.

While these laws discourage the purchase of illegal drugs, it can also deter those present during an overdose from reporting it to the authorities for fear of prosecution.

Some states have what are called “911 Good Samaritan” laws. These laws, to a certain extent, protect individuals who call 911 seeking medical assistance for overdose victims. Regardless, the authorities should always be notified if a suspected overdose is occurring.

Now for some good news, in 2018 the National Council for Home Safety and Security named Marco Island as the Safest City in Florida. Marco is an area with an extremely low rate of crime. But that doesn’t mean drug abuse doesn’t exist here. 

“Marco Island is a very, very safe place,” said Marco Island Police Captain David Baer. “But it doesn’t mean that nothing bad happens here.”

There are things that the community can do in order to fight drug abuse. One simple way you can do your part is by dropping off unused medications to the Marco Island Police Department. They will make sure that it is disposed of it properly. Do not flush your medications down the toilet! Captain Baer also suggested securing medications so that they are out of reach of children and teenagers. Drug abuse can happen with older people as well, always be mindful of your doctor or pharmacist instructions.

Drug Free Collier is an organization whose entire mission is to keep Collier County drug free. They have tons of resources for adults, teenagers, and everyone in between. Other available resources include Sunset Coast Narcotics Anonymous, www.sunsetcoastna.com and the Narcotics Anonymous Helpline, 1-888-HELP-301. For people struggling with depression the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is operational 24 hours a day, at 1-800-273-8255.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or depression please visit www.drugfreecollier.org for information and resources on how to get help. You can also call the Narcotics Anonymous Helpline at 1-888-HELP-301 or visit www.sunsetcoastna.com. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

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