A recent call to action from President Obama brought to light the national crisis of drug use in America, declaring September 18-24th Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. Obama has called for congress to allocate 1 billion dollars towards expanding treatment. Drug overdoses have now climbed the charts as the leading cause of accidental death in America, and statistics show the problem is only getting worse, especially plaguing major north eastern cities and South Florida.
Since 1999, the number of drug related deaths involving painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl has quadrupled. The problem has affected South Florida as well. According to studies presented in an early October summit on drug use in Boca Raton, every two hours someone in South Florida overdoses on heroine or painkillers.
The summit met in Boca to discuss the increasing rates of drug related deaths and overdosing in South Florida. Miami U.S Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer referred to the number of overdose deaths as “the most urgent challenge we face in public health.” Law enforcement officials in Boca Raton have also been affected by the drug use and overdosing in South Florida, with almost 400 overdose incidents this year alone. In 2015, there were 1,460 drug overdose deaths in South Florida alone. Prosecutors are working on harsher punishments for drug dealers involved in drug related deaths. Officials are now carrying Naloxone, a drug that helps to reverse the effects of heroin, in order to prevent death. South Florida officials are also helping people get into treatment centers in Boca Raton before it is too late.