Opioid Crisis

Palm Beach County is the epicenter of a South Florida overdose epidemic.

Officials estimate 900 people died of opioid overdoses in 2016 – more than twice as many as the year before.

Super-potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil – up to a 100 times stronger that heroine - are flooding the streets.

The sheer number of overdoses is overwhelming police, firefighters, hospitals and morgues.

Compounding the problem, recovering drug users are flocking to South Florida from hundreds of miles away – drawn by a world-renowned drug treatment industry. Some land in good centers and find a path to recovery. Others fall victim to corrupt operators and wind up homeless, pimped out...or dead.

Explore the series

Credit Peter Haden / WLRN


South Florida Cities To America:  ‘Don’t Send Your Drug Users Here’

Delray Beach is at the epicenter of a South Florida overdose epidemic that claimed more than 1,000 lives last year. And many of those victims were from out of state.

“We're now having tourists come in for treatment,” said Lake Worth City Manager, Michael Bornstein. “These young folks in their 20s from New Jersey, New York, Michigan — wherever the heck they're coming from — and their families send them here.” [Read More] 


  Deadly Drug "Grey Death" Hits Florida

Law enforcement officials are warning of a deadly new drug hitting  that's actually  a mixture of several opioid drugs, including heroin, fentanyl and elephant tranquilizer ... [Read More]

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Florida Governor Declares Public Health Emergency For Opioids  

Governor Rick Scott has declared a Public Health Emergency and directed the state government to act to curb Florida's opioid epidemic ...   [Read More]

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Why Hasn't Florida Declared A Public Health Emergency For Opioids?

Calls are mounting for Gov. Rick Scott to declare of public health emergency in the wake of an estimated 4,000 deaths in Florida last year due to heroin and opioid overdoses ... [Read More]

Credit Peter Haden / WLRN


FAU Partners With DEA To Raise Awareness About South Florida's Opioid Crisis

The growing threat of the opioids epidemic is mobilizing law enforcement and community leaders to form new partnerships and collaborate in events such as ... [Read More]


Credit Delray Beach Police Department



'Dime A Dozen,' Overdose Crisis Rages in South Florida

The man had just risen from the dead.

He’s in his mid-20’s. Sitting on a couch in a house in Delray Beach. Pale as a ghost, sweaty, wide-eyed, disoriented.  Like he just woke up from a nightmare ... [Read more]

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Chinese Fentanyl Fueling U.S., Florida Overdose Crisis

China is the source of deadly fentanyl that’s fueling an opioid overdose epidemic in South Florida and elsewhere in the United States ... [Read more]

Credit Bernard Spragg. NZ / via Flickr/Creative Commons



'Is This A Sober Home Or A Drug Den?,' Compliance Group Denounces Abuses In Recovery Residences 

As the addiction recovery industry boomed in South Florida over the past decade, so did the number of recovery residences - also known as sober homes ... [Read more]

Credit Peter Haden / WLRN



Task Force Wants State To Oversee Sober Homes

The Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force is putting the finishing touches on a report headed to lawmakers in Tallahassee. It outlines strategies to better regulate drug treatment providers and sober homes ... [Read more]

Credit Peter Haden / WLRN



Sober Home Detective: 'The Problem Is Humongous'

Delray Beach Police Detective Nicole Lucas weighs in on irregularities in sober homes and treatment centers: "The problem is humongous, probably as big as the pain clinics and the pill mills ... " [Read more]

Credit Peter Haden / WLRN



Opioid Overdose Continue To Rage In Delray Beach 

The epidemic of opioid overdoses continues to grip Delray Beach. The city saw 75 heroin overdoses last month, with 4 of them fatal. That’s a slight decrease from October, which brought an all-time high of 88 heroin overdoses ... [Read more] 



Sober Homes Task Force Looks For Renewed Funding

The man leading the fight against unscrupulous sober homes has a message for state legislators: "When the appropiations process comes up, please keep us in mind," said Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg ... [Read more] 




Palm Beach County Sober Home Operators Charged In Kickback Scheme

Iskander joins sober home operators John Dudek, Howard Fowler, Jr. and brothers Patrick and Brian Norquist. The five men have all been arrested in Palm Beach County over the past week on charges of patient brokering ... [Read more] 

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Feds Give Cities Guidance On Sober Homes

The federal government is giving cities some new guidance on how far they can go in regulating sober homes. 

Under the new guidelines, cities have more legal authority to grant or deny the exemptions that allow a sober home to move in ... [Read more] 

Credit Peter Haden / WLRN



Task Force Looking Into Further Regulations For Florida 'Sober Homes'

“Make no mistake about it: two sets of eyes – so we have both government and the private sector looking at these residences to make sure they’re squeaky clean,” said Assistant State Attorney Al Johnson about a new task force created to crack down on  unscrupulous addiction recovery residences ... [Read more]