Southwest Florida reeling from opioid crisis
Cape Coral is set on a picture perfect stretch along the Gulf Coast of Florida, but it’s also at the center of a surging opioid crisis that has claimed thousands of lives all across the Sunshine State.
As reported in the News-Press, overdoses, (a majority of which are not fatal), have risen 800 percent in the past four years in Lee County, from 171 in 2013 to 955 in 2017, according to Lee Health, the largest medical provider in the county.
The crisis claimed 5,725 deaths in 2016 in Florida, a 35 percent increase from the 4,242 Florida deaths in 2015, the latest full years for which statistics are available from the Florida Medical Examiners report, published in November.
Combined street drug heroin and fentanyl deaths in 2016 were 61 in the Fort Myers area, 27 in Naples and eight in Port Charlotte, according to the report. Deaths caused by the prescription drug Oxycodone rose by 28 percent from 2015 to 2016.
In Cape Coral, heroin overdoses surged from 41 in 2015 to 54 in 2016 and 80 through October of this year, according to the Cape Coral Police Department.
Deaths from fentanyl, a synthetic opioid and street drug that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, weren’t even tracked in 2013. In Lee County, there were four fentanyl-related deaths in 2014 and 19 in 2015. Those deaths almost doubled to 34 in 2016.
Much of the fentanyl found in the United States originates in China.
“You’re talking about global networks that are manufacturing heroin,” Cape Coral Police Chief David Newlan said on the difficulties of policing it. “Most heroin originates from outside of the United States.”
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To read more about the opioid crisis in Southwest Florida, please visit News-Press.com.