Sure COVID kills, but counterfeit pills laced with deadly fentanyl are flooding the Black Market and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody says she’s seen a corresponding dramatic spike in overdose deaths.
The coronavirus pandemic hit as fentanyl, an extremely powerful synthetic opioid, continues to become more widespread.
The DEA says four out of ten fake pills contain deadly fentanyl and Florida ranks second in the nation for overdose deaths, behind only California.
More than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. in 2020, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s the highest number of overdose deaths the country has ever recorded, and reflects a 29.4% increase from 2019.
Last year in Florida, 7,579 people died from a drug overdose, an increase of 37% from 2019.
The counterfeit pills are flowing over the southern border from China according to border patrol.
“The pandemic has affected the whole country, and the opioid crisis has tracked right along with that,” according to Dianne Clarke, the CEO of a treatment program based in Pinellas County.
“Florida is a port of entry for drugs. When you look at our international airports, the amount of ports we have, the amount of coastline we have, what that means is not only is there more here, but when it gets here, it’s more pure,” Clarke told WUSF.
She adds that overdose deaths were already on the rise in Florida, but the pandemic accelerated the situation.
In addition, people with drug dependency became more isolated, having less contact with their family and friends. Also, 12-step meetings were paused, churches shut down and some rehab programs shifted to telehealth models.
Stressors like job loss and eviction, which can be triggers for people who have an addiction, have been amplified by the pandemic.
In 2019, fentanyl was present in over 3,200 of the state’s 5,000 overdose deaths, according to CDC data.
Go to DoseOfRealityFL.com for more information.