Prescription drug addicts start to overrun detox facilities



CENTRAL FLORIDA -- - Florida has done a good job of cracking down on pill mills, but there's a new problem: prescription drug addicts are starting to overrun local detox facilities.

Officials said they're worried some new over-the-counter medications are becoming a fill-in fix when addicts' pills or money run out.

The Center for Drug-Free Living can't keep up with the number of people who come begging for help, addicted to pain pills that are becoming harder to get with pill mill crackdowns.

"We get people by car, by ambulance, we get them by police officers," the center's Shannon Robinson said. "As more and more pain clinics are closed, you see influxes of these clients show up."

But detox facilities can't handle so many patients, often turning clients away to hospitals because they don't have the beds.

The Center for Drug-Free Living is the only facility in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Brevard counties that can provide medical detox that typically lasts up to seven days. Nearly all of its 40 beds are filled on a daily basis.

"It's pretty incredible when you consider that there are days when we have 16 admissions," Robinson said.

The price of pills is also an issue these days, causing people to turn to cheaper alternatives. What used to cost $5 for one pain pill now costs $80. So instead of spending all that money for a fix, cough medicines are now filling that void.

"No one is going to be arrested for cough syrup in their car, even if there is five bottles, and these are some of the thing we are seeing," Robinson said.

WFTV checked and at the end of last year, pharmacies statewide were buying 30 percent fewer oxycodone pills.

But more than seven Floridians are still dying every day from overdoses. Out of more than 175,000 deaths in Florida last year, state medical examiners looked at 9,000 that were drug-related.

Many of these were a mixed cocktail, but oxycodone caused the most deaths, followed by Xanax, methadone and then alcohol. Cocaine and heroin were lower on the list. Heroin deaths were actually down.