Rick Scott, Florida’s new governor, has abolished the State of Florida’s Office of Drug Control, which was influential in getting legislation passed that would help eliminate pill-mills. The new Republican attorney general, Pam Bondi, has now taken over to reign in Florida’s pill mill operations. Attorney General Bondi assigned Dave Aronberg with the task of taking on the mills. Aronberg was the first to investigate the makers of OxyContin about ten years ago.
The Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
In the past Florida has had no response to the pill mill crises. Most problems involving the illegal activity of prescription drug addiction was handled by local law enforcement and the federal government. Florida has now become the nation’s largest supplier of prescription drugs and leads the country in deaths from prescription drug addiction. Florida drug rehabs are and have been overflowing with people who are being admitted for prescription drug addiction, a growing problem in many states – not just Florida.
Debbie Ross, the executive director of Florida drug rehab Blu By the Sea claims that their center has been overrun with those seeking help with prescription drug addiction. Ross states, “When we opened our rehab center, those suffering with cocaine addiction and alcohol addiction were the two main groups of people whom we treated for drug abuse. Now, the main overwhelming drugs of abuse in our center are prescription drugs.” The prescription drug problem in Florida is so large and out of control, that now the problem demands a state response.
One of the questions is how did Florida become the nation’s pill-mill state? Some theories are that those who were distributing cocaine in South Florida found that they could make almost as much money trafficking legal drugs instead of risking long-term sentences for cocaine. Florida’s laws on prescription drugs are lax and are one of the last states without a prescription drug database. Florida also has a large supply of retired doctors who are willing to make quick money off those suffering with prescription drug addiction (learn more about addiction to prescription drugs here). The combination of these elements and more has enabled Florida to become the pill-mill capital of the United States.
The Next Step
What’s next? According to David Aronberg, attorney general Bondi’s goal is to prosecute those operating pill mills and to remove the incentives for illegal drug dealers to enter the state. With the Florida crackdown, however, there is a word of caution to the State of Georgia. If legislators are not careful, the next pill mill capital could be Georgia.