According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of drug-induced deaths in Florida is greater than the rate for the entire country. Recovery First Treatment Centers report that opioids are the second-most common drugs abused in Florida after marijuana.
Approximately 10 years ago, there was an effort to reduce unauthorized use of prescription painkillers. Though successful at restricting access to prescription opioids, the so-called Pill Mill Bust led to an increase in the use of illegal opioids, such as heroin.
What was the Pill Mill Bust?
According to Florida Recovery Group, some unscrupulous doctors in Florida exploited their authority to write prescriptions for opioid painkillers. They wrote bogus prescriptions for people who did not need them in exchange for money.
The Pill Mill Bust cracked down on this practice statewide. Doctors who sold prescriptions lost their licenses, thus shutting down the prescription pill mills.
How did the Pill Mill Bust lead to more heroin use?
While the Pill Mill Bust stopped the practice of writing unnecessary prescriptions for profit, it did nothing to help the people who had become dependent on the medication. Their supply cut off, these people felt that they had no choice but to seek out other alternatives. Heroin is cheaper than prescription painkillers and easier to obtain through illicit means. Though not having any accepted medical use in the United States, heroin derives from the opium poppy just like many painkillers. Therefore, the effects are similar, making it a desirable substitute for illicitly obtained prescription opioids.
Any opioid drug, whether it be an illicit drug like heroin or prescription medication, can cause potentially deadly overdoses. For this reason, the penalties for illegal possession or distribution can be extremely high.