Tampa Drug Abuse Statistics and Local Treatment Guide

In an article published in U.S. News and World Report, a local writer proclaims that living in Tampa is like, "… being on vacation all year." If you or someone you love is dealing with an addiction, and you’re trying to find addiction help in Tampa, you might disagree with that statement.

Like much of Florida, Tampa is in the grips of opioid addiction, and that means there are many people in the area looking for treatment teams they can trust. Help is available, but finding an open space in available nonprofit organizations can be a bit of a challenge. It's vital to keep looking, however, as treatment offers you the best chance of making your life in Tampa the best it can possibly be. There are also many private treatment centers that can help, and these tend to have more immediate openings.

Further Readings:

Support group with women smiling

Low-Cost Help Available in Tampa

If you are looking for treatment help, it is reasonable to start your search by examining nonprofit, not-for-profit, and state-run treatment options in the Tampa area. These are a few organizations that could provide you with the assistance you need.

The Agency for Community Treatment Services (ACTS) is an organization that is funded by state, local, and federal dollars. Shortfalls in funding are made up by donors living in the community. The organization offers both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, and there are services available for both adults and children. People who need help are not expected to know what program will be right for them. Families can call ACTS, describe symptoms, and get referred to the program that is best.

New Beginnings of Tampa is a nonprofit organization that offers help for addiction, with a special emphasis on serving veterans. Through their transitional housing program, the organization offers a safe and sober place to live, paired with classes that address drug addiction. People who enroll in this program can also gain educational assistance and job placement services. This is a faith-based organization, and space is limited. People are not turned away due to an inability to pay for care.

ULOC Center is a nonprofit, faith-based organization that assists women in crisis. The organization offers case management, transitional housing, and referrals to both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Women enrolled in this program can also access support groups, job training, legal support, and educational classes. Detox services for women in crisis are also available.

Tampa Crossroads is a family-focused nonprofit organization that serves Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco County. Since its inception in 1977, this organization has helped thousands of adults dealing with addiction. Inpatient programs and outpatient programs are both available through this organization, and there is a program specifically developed for veterans. Tampa Crossroads also offers an affordable housing option, suitable for families.

The Central Florida Behavioral Health Network is a not-for-profit organization that holds contracts with publically funded mental health and substance abuse treatment providers in the area. This is considered the state-run treatment option for people who live in Tampa. Residents can contact the organization and obtain a referral to a nearby program that can help, and the fees are typically paid by funds that come from the state. Families that utilize this option may have no say in the facility chosen for them, but they may be reassured at the idea that their bills will be covered by taxpayer dollars.

The Tri-County Central Office of Alcoholics Anonymous is responsible for keeping accurate records of meetings held in Tampa. Families looking for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can utilize this resource to help them find a meeting near them, and they can find out more about the types of meetings available in each location. Families looking for a specific focus, such as a concentration on veterans, might find this resource to be very helpful.

Understand the Scope of Drug Abuse in Tampa

The Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance performs periodic research to determine how many people abuse drugs in Tampa, along with what drugs people in the community lean on. Parsing that data can give you a good understanding of the risks people face in your community, and it could reduce the sense of isolation you feel when you are dealing with an addiction.

Prescription medications are the most popular drugs of abuse in Hillsborough County. In 2015, prescription medications were responsible for 218 cases of drug-related sickness compared to just 2 cases attributed to heroin. Statistics like this seem to suggest that prescription painkillers are very prominent within Tampa, and they are making many people ill.

In addition, alcohol abuse is prominent in Tampa, particularly among young people. While the number of arrests for driving under the influence in adults and the number of bars selling alcohol to adults are dipping, the number of students drinking remains alarmingly high, and this could indicate that addiction will remain a problem in Tampa for quite some time. People who abuse substances while young tend to grow into adults who also abuse substances.

The state of Florida is working hard to address this issue. In fact, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the state was awarded $61.7 million in federal funds to combat opioid addiction, and most of that money will be used to fund drug treatment and prevention programs. The hope is that these programs will help to curb drug abuse rates and drug-induced death rates, but the results of the program are yet to be seen.

Opioid prescription pills on black surface

How Do Drugs Enter Tampa?

In order for drug abuse to blossom into a community problem, there must be a consistent supply of drugs to take. In Tampa, some of that supply comes from drug cartels.

These large organizations manufacture drugs in foreign countries where drug enforcement is lax or nonexistent. They then ship the drugs across the border and into the United States, where they are sold. Since Tampa is located so close to major ports of entry into the United States, it isn't surprising that cartels are active in the area, and those cartels can bring in a remarkable amount of drugs.

For example, the Tampa Bay Times reports that a member of a drug supply chain was at least partially responsible for bringing at least 66 pounds of heroin into the Tampa area. This man lived in California, the newspaper reports, but he directed drug shipments, and he ensured those drugs were sold in Florida.

Law enforcement agencies work hard to both spot and stop drug cartel activity, but Tampa's central location makes that work difficult. As long as there is a port, there will be dealers who will try to bring drugs across that port.

Some Tampa doctors can also compound the addiction issue. For example, the United States Department of Justice reports that a doctor in Tampa wrote more than 600 prescriptions for the painkiller hydromorphone and more than 1,000 prescriptions for oxycodone between August 2017 and March 2018. He did not have a license to do this work, and it was considered fraudulent.

Doctors like this can contribute to the addiction problem by selling prescriptions, so addicted people can get the drugs they need at a price. They can also sell drugs directly to dealers for a profit.

Family consoling a young man

What Families Can Do to Help

Addictions can be managed, but the person who has the addiction needs treatment. Families can help by looking for signs of addiction, which can include the following:

Families that spot these signs can help by holding a formal intervention. According to Mayo Clinic, an intervention is a carefully planned conversation that is designed to break down a sense of denial about the presence of addiction. The goal of an intervention is to persuade someone to enter a treatment program, preferably as soon as the talk is through.

An interventionist can help families to plan for these conversations. Interventionists are adept at helping families to find the words to express their feelings without creating a sense of hostility or blame. With proper planning, an intervention can be remarkably effective in helping someone to see the need for treatment.


At the end of an intervention, the person you love should be motivated to enter a treatment program. Following that conversation with a delayed entry to treatment can mean losing that momentum. It’s so important that treatment is readily available so look for a program that has an immediate opening for your loved one.

References

What’s It Like to Live in Tampa, FL? U.S. News and World Report.

 

Support Us. Agency for Community Treatment Services, Inc.

About Us. New Beginnings of Tampa.

About ULOC Center. ULOC.

About Us. Tampa Crossroads, Inc.

Welcome to Central Florida Behavioral Network. Central Florida Behavioral Network.

Find a Meeting. Tri-County Central Office Tampa.

Profile of Alcohol and Drug Indicators for Hillsborough County, Florida. (June 2017). Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance.

Florida Gets Federal Money for Opioid Fight. (September 2018). Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Drug Trafficker Who Brought Heroin Into Tampa Gets 27 Years in Federal Prison. (December 2017). Tampa Bay Times.

Tampa Doctor Pleads Guilty to Distribution of Opioids Outside of His DEA Registration. (July 2018). United States Department of Justice.

Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction. (July 2017). Mayo Clinic.