- A new report made public by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows that Florida experienced a ten percent increase in drug-related deaths last year
- According to the report, toxicological findings indicate that drugs were present at the time of death in 16,138 of the 36,523 fatalities that medical examiners investigated
- FDLE also reports 8,411 opioid‐related deaths, an increase of 569 deaths, or seven percent, compared to 2020
- The most frequently occurring drugs found in recorded deaths were ethyl alcohol, fentanyl, and benzodiazepines
A new report published Monday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) highlighted a ten percent increase in drug overdose deaths in 2021, with spikes in fentanyl and benzodiazepines usage.
According to the report, toxicological findings indicate that drugs were present at the time of death in 16,138 of the 36,523 fatalities that medical examiners investigated. FDLE reports 8,411 opioid‐related deaths, an increase of 569 deaths, or seven percent, compared to 2020.
The agency does note, however, that opioids were identified as either the cause of death or merely present in the decedent, though 6,442 opioid‐caused deaths were reported, representing a 353 death increase (six percent).
The most frequently occurring drugs found in recorded deaths were ethyl alcohol (6,511 deaths), fentanyl (6,417 deaths), benzodiazepines (4,195 deaths), cocaine (4,015 deaths), cannabinoids (3,845 deaths), methamphetamine (2,934 deaths), fentanyl analogs (2,801 deaths), amphetamine (2,647 deaths), morphine (1,201 deaths), oxycodone (1,111 deaths) and gabapentin (1,091 deaths).
Just three types of drugs — heroin, oxycodone, and morphine — caused fewer deaths in 2021 than in 2019, indicating a proliferating use of all other drugs.
The introduction of fentanyl to local communities has been a hot topic issue at the state level this year, with Attorney General Ashley Moody taking steps to combat the crisis.
According to the Department of Health in October, Florida surpassed 4,000 reported fatal overdose cases this year, with the actual number likely much higher, as counties statewide continue to struggle with the introduction of counterfeit opioids.
In FDLE’s report, St. Petersburg recorded the most deaths caused by fentanyl at 654, followed by Ft. Lauderdale (611 deaths), Jacksonville (560 deaths), and West Palm Beach (547 deaths).
In response, a range of state agencies has introduced initiatives to suppress the introduction of opioids into the state and make medical response access more accessible.
Moody last month led a national consortium of bipartisan Attorneys General, who collectively wrote to President Joe Biden to request a declaration of fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.
“Currently, fentanyl is exacerbating the death toll increasing exponentially every year for the last several years. The purpose of this letter is to propose an unorthodox solution that may help abate or at least slow the crisis’s trajectory while also protecting Americans from a mass casualty event from fentanyl,” Moody’s letter reads.