Substance use can have numerous negative consequences, yet it continues to be a common problem in Florida. Various types of drugs are misused and abused in the state, like the rest of the nation. Misuse of pain relievers (OxyContin, Vicodin) is reported by 3.8% of adults in Florida within the past year. The prevalence of heroin use in the past year among adults is a fraction of prescription opioid pain relievers, and about 0.5% of adults report using heroin in the past 12 months. This figure has been consistently lower in Florida than the U.S. national average. [1]

The opioid epidemic in Florida, however, continues to claim thousands of lives each year. In 2018, nearly 3,200 lives were lost in Florida to drug overdose deaths involving opioids. This constituted 68% of all the drug overdose deaths in the state.

The use of illicit stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine is also a problem in the state of Florida, although less so than prescription opioid pain pill misuse. About 2.1% of adults in Florida report cocaine use in the past year, which is similar to the U.S. average of 2.3%. Methamphetamine use in Florida has shown a slight decline in recent years.

Marijuana is the second most common substance used by Floridians. Around 14.5% of adults report using marijuana in the past year. This has been increasing steadily from 6% in 2002 and 10.9% in 2003.

Public health agencies are also tracking vaping among Florida youth. Over 11% of high-school students in Florida reported currently vaping nicotine, and nearly 23% said they had ever used an electronic cigarette. Additionally, approximately 7% of youth in Florida report vaping marijuana currently, and 15.5% report ever vaping marijuana.

Alcohol use within the past month among adults in Florida has declined recently but is still high at nearly 51%. [2]

If you are one of the thousands of Floridians struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, going to rehab can help you put your life back on track. You can learn coping mechanisms through structured addiction recovery programs that will make it less likely that you seek relief in drugs or alcohol. The National Drug Helpline at (844) 289-0879is a toll-free number that can help you find the best drug rehab programs in Florida that meet your specific needs. You can call the hotline 24/7 and speak to friendly and knowledgeable advisors in complete confidentiality. The helpline can provide answers to your questions and give you information about treatment options and costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are underage drinking and drug use among youth so dangerous?

Curiosity, the desire to experiment, and the pressure to fit in leads many teenagers to drink alcohol or use illicit drugs. But this can have devastating consequences. For example, when a child begins drinking before the age of 15, they are up to 5 times more likely to become long-term alcohol abusers and to develop alcohol dependence. Teens who drink or do drugs are at high risk of accidents, including car crashes, drownings, falls, and suicide; of becoming victims of violent crimes; and of undertaking risky sexual behaviors. Alcohol and drugs also have several long-term effects on the brain that may be lifelong.

That’s why it is important to talk to your children about the dangers of drinking or using drugs when they are as young as 9 or 10 years old, before they have ever tried these substances.

If a child or adolescent in your family is struggling with drinking or drug use, you should get help without delay. A good place to start is calling the toll-free National Drug Helpline at (844) 289-0879. Advisors are available 24/7 to give you advice and information on private and public programs and addiction treatment centers in Florida that specialize in treating youth with drug or alcohol problems.

Why do some people become addicted to drugs while others don’t?

Like other diseases and medical conditions, the risk of addiction varies from person to person. One factor that can increase the risk of developing a dependence on substances is genetics—a family history of drug abuse or alcoholism is associated with a higher risk of developing addiction. The age when you start using drugs or alcohol is also important. The younger you are when you first start using, the higher the chances of developing an addiction. Your social environment, which determines access to drugs and alcohol, also plays a key role. Last but not least, the type of drug used is a factor. Some drugs like cocaine are highly addictive, and occasional use can quickly escalate to frequent use, constant use, and addiction.

How do I know if someone close to me is having problems with drugs or alcohol?

One of the key signs of alcohol or drug dependence is continued use despite negative consequences. For example, continuing to drink excessively despite getting into trouble with the law, or continuing to use a drug despite losing their job due to drug use. If this is the case, it is a clear indicator that your loved one needs help.

Other signs and symptoms include needing more of the drug over time to get the same effect, or taking larger amounts of the drug than intended. If someone you love is spending money on drugs or alcohol even when they can’t afford it, that’s another sign that things have gotten out of hand. Failing to meet work or school obligations, spending inordinate amounts of time getting, using, and recovering from drug use, experiencing withdrawal symptoms without the drug, and attempting and failing to quit on their own are all signs that professional help is warranted.

If you are worried about a friend or family member and need someone to talk to, call the National Drug Helpline at (844) 289-0879. Friendly and non-judgmental advisors are available 24/7 to listen to your concerns and offer advice. You can find out about staging interventions, treatment options, treatment costs, and other useful information. The important thing is to take that first step and make the call before drug or alcohol use in a loved one or yourself leads to devastating consequences.

woman on phone by pool

Last updated: March 9, 2023


1 Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. Patterns of and Trends in Substance Use in Florida. Available online. Accessed on October 30, 2021.
2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Florida: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms. Available online. Accessed on 30 October 2021.