What should you do if you're living with an addiction in Orlando? If you started thinking about treatment programs, you would be on the right track. Addiction treatment can help you to learn more about your drug abuse triggers, and you can use that knowledge to build your skills, so you can avoid falling prey to those triggers in the future.
Drug treatment works, and there are plenty of treatment options available in or near Orlando. We have collected those resources here, and we encourage you to connect with a program that can help.
If you are not yet convinced that you need to get help for an addiction issue, we have also collected statistics about how drug use is impacting Orlando. That data might help to sway you to take action against your addiction.
For many people with addictions, cost is a barrier to effective care. Thankfully, there are programs available through state and local agencies that can help you to recover from addiction even if you do not have the money to pay for these programs on your own.
According to the Orange County Government's website, community services in Orange County for people with mental health concerns are provided by Aspire Health Partners. This connection allows people who need mental health care to get that care through Aspire without worrying about payment plans they cannot afford.
Aspire Health Partners offers a walk-in service for people in need in Orange County. You can walk through the doors of the mental health center and meet with a professional who can assess your issue and determine the best place for you to get help. Emergency assessments are available around the clock, and nonemergency screenings are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Emergency intake assessments are performed at the Lakeside Hospital on Mercy Drive in Orlando. If your addiction results in an arrest and police officers believe you need care right away, this is the place you will be taken for care. You may also appear here if you have symptoms of a mental health crisis and police officers think you need treatment for that issue in order to protect the safety of the community.
If you aren't quite sure if you need help, the Mental Health Association of Central Florida may be a useful ally. This nonprofit organization operates a mental health helpline, staffed by volunteers, which is available to all people who live in Orange County. People who answer this helpline can refer you to a program that can help you to recover, and there is no charge for this service.
There are several churches and places of worship in Orlando, and many of them offer support for people with addictions. These programs are not often publicized, for reasons that are not entirely clear, but many of them are open to anyone in need. If you would like to take advantage of this help, you can simply ask the priest or clergyperson in charge for assistance.
There are literally dozens of drugs available that can change brain chemistry and bring about a sense of euphoria. It is likely that every one of these drugs is in use by someone in Orlando. But statistics suggest that there are some types of drugs that are a little more popular than others within this community.
For example, a piece published in The New York Times in 2001 suggested that Orlando was home to many young, homeless people. These people came to Orlando after hearing about the community through travel brochures and commercials, and they expected their life in Orlando to be beautiful and free of stress. The reality did not match their expectation, and they turned to drugs to deliver the experience they wanted.
For these young people, club drugs like ecstasy and GHB were preferable, as they made the world seem softer and kinder. In 2001, these drugs were relatively new; now, they seem familiar. And since Orlando is still home to plenty of young people, these drugs are still popular.
In addition to club drugs, people in Orlando are leaning on prescription painkillers, such as:
These medications boost the release of pleasure chemicals in the brain, causing a sense of euphoria and relaxation to take hold. These medications are powerful when swallowed, but when the pills are crushed and snorted, the sensations are even stronger and more pleasurable.
When people who abuse painkillers grow accustomed to the power of the pills, they may need to transition to stronger drugs in order to get the high they had hoped for. Heroin is a street drug that works on the same receptors targeted by painkillers, but heroin is somewhat easier to buy. It is also quite a bit more powerful. People who abuse painkillers may be amazed at how strong heroin really is.
That strength makes heroin incredibly dangerous. When people take heroin at a strength they were not prepared for, they can overwhelm their bodies and die. According to The Orlando Times, Orlando is a hot spot for heroin-related deaths. In 2015, Orlando saw 108 deaths due to heroin compared to just 28 in Pensacola.
People who take drugs experience brain cell changes that make drug use move from optional to compulsive. One of the best ways to prevent this addiction cycle from starting is to reduce the levels of drugs entering Orlando.
The police are working on that, but they have a big fight against cartels ahead of them. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice declared that Orlando had become a common shipment area for drugs. The agency claimed that cartels worked with the U.S. Postal Service to bring drugs up from Mexico to Orlando, where the drugs were repackaged for sale. Since the drugs entered Orlando, they were relatively easy to distribute in the area, and this is how the experts believe some drugs have entered the community.
Police in Orlando are working with federal agents to identify the drug cartels that are active in the area, and they arrest and incarcerate people who are involved with that work. Each arrest has the potential to mean smaller amounts of drugs available.
In addition to drug cartels, some substances of abuse originate in the medical system. So-called "pill mills" allowed people with flimsy prescriptions to obtain the prescription painkillers they needed in order to support their addictions. In 2010, according to documents from the Orange County Government, ordinances were passed that limited the operation of pill mills like this in Orlando, and this allowed some painkillers to dip in popularity.
While legislators and law enforcement agencies look for ways to curb drug use on a large scale, there are smaller initiatives happening in Orlando that could have a big impact.
For example, the Orlando Sentinel reports that some doctors in Orlando are learning how to screen their young patients for addiction, and they are learning techniques to point their patients toward care. This work could allow people to get help they need before an addiction has a chance to settle in and become entrenched. This could, in theory, help to lower addiction rates in the future.
In addition, officials in Orlando have begun participating in a new database program that can help to curb doctor shopping. More than 92,000 health care providers have registered for the program. As part of their registration, officials keep track of how many prescriptions they write and to whom those prescriptions are given. That could help officials to spot instances where doctors are writing prescriptions inappropriately and leading to diversion.
Every family that takes a stand against addiction is also a boost for Orlando. If you are living with an addiction, getting help can allow your community to heal.
Mental Health and Homeless Issues Division. Orange County Government Florida.
Programs and Services. Aspire Health Partners.
Central Receiving Center. Lakeside Hospital and Clinics and Princeton Plaza.
Mental Health Information Orange County, Fl. Mental Health Association of Central Florida.
Orlando Glitter Hides Dark Side of Young Drug Users. (May 2001). New York Times.
Heroin Crisis Trickles Into Orlando. The Orlando Times.
Central Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis 2011. (September 2011). U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center.
Mayor Teresa Jacobs Prescription Drug Task Force Final Report. Orange County Government.
Find Out How Local Pediatricians Are Addressing Opioid Epidemic. (October 2018). Orlando Sentinel.
Use of Florida Drug Database Increases Amid Opioid Fight, New Law. (September 2018). Orlando Sentinel.