If you are a Naples resident and you struggle with substance abuse, you may be concerned that there are not enough nearby resources to help you, since Naples is a small community. However, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office for Naples, Florida, provides a list of treatment resources on their website to help reduce drug crimes. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has an online treatment program finder, which you can narrow down by your geographic location, the type of treatment you want, and the type of condition you need help with.
Naples, Florida: Beautiful Coasts and Underlying Substance Abuse Issues
Naples is one of the southernmost small cities in Florida. It is on the western side of the state, with beautiful beachfront on the Gulf of Mexico. South of Fort Myers but north the Everglades National Park, Naples is located in Collier County, and it is perfectly situated to have lovely, warm weather throughout the year. Because of this temperate and visually stunning environment, many retirees have moved to Naples over the years, so currently, the median age is 65.2 years old. There are just shy of 21,000 residents in the town.
Because of the town’s position on the water, Naples is one of the many ports in Florida abused by illicit drug traffickers. When illicit and addictive substances are brought into an area, residents are more likely to be exposed to these drugs, so they are at greater risk of abusing them. With so many older adults in Naples, there are more likely to be potent prescription drugs available in medicine cabinets, which friends or family may steal for nonmedical purposes.
Below is information about substance abuse rates in Naples, Florida. With state guidance, the city is working hard to understand these issues and provide evidence-based treatment.
The Most Abused Drugs in Naples and Collier County, Florida
As of 2016, Florida’s overall drug overdose death rate was 23.7 people out of every 100,000 residents. This is considerably higher than nearby states like Georgia (13.3), Alabama (16.2), and South Carolina (18.1). Although the state has worked hard to overcome drug and alcohol abuse, rates of death involving intoxicating substances remains high. This impacts Naples residents because the risk that they or someone they love may suffer from substance abuse and overdose is higher than in other areas of the United States.
Alcohol: In Collier County, there are slightly higher reported rates of excessive drinking compared to other parts of the state. Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and alcohol use disorder. Around 18.4 percent of residents in Collier County report excessive drinking, which is similar to nearby counties Monroe (18.3 percent), Broward (17.2 percent), and Palm Beach (18.1 percent). It is lower than Lee County (19.5 percent) to Collier County’s north but more than Miami-Dade County (16.6 percent) which is further south.Collier County reported 86 crashes involving alcohol out of every 100,000 residents compared to Florida’s 87.6 for every 100,000 residentsAlcohol-involved car accident injuries were 52.5 out of every 100,000 people in Collier County and 59.2 out of every 100,000 people in Florida.There were 3.3 alcohol-involved crash deaths for every 100,000 people in Collier County compared to Florida’s 4.3 out of every 100,000 people.
Collier County is also about in the middle of Florida’s statistics when it comes to drunk driving deaths. The county reports that 25.1 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents involve alcohol, which is about the same as Lee County (24.8 percent), Charlotte County (25 percent), and Glades County (26.5 percent); however, it is higher than closer and larger Miami-Dade County (16.9 percent) and Broward County (21.5 percent). It is also lower than Monroe County (30.7 percent). Since 2015, Collier County’s percentage of DUI fatalities has remained about the same while the rest of Florida’s rates are predominantly declining.
However, rates of DUI accidents and deaths have been declining in Collier County, including in Naples. From 1997, to 2014, alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes have steadily gone down in the southwestern Florida area, mostly on a similar trend as declines at the state level. From 2012 to 2014, rates of alcohol-related car accidents were just below the state’s levels.
Still, as of 2013, about one person per week in Collier County, including Naples, died in a drunk driving accident. Unfortunately, more adults in Collier County report binge drinking — more than five drinks in two hours — more often. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) reported that, in 2007, about 16.1 percent of adults ages 18 and older in the county binge drank; by 2013, that percentage was up to 18.1 percent, higher than the state average of 17.6 percent.Opioids: Both prescription opioid painkillers and narcotics like heroin continue to be problematic in Naples, partially due to the number of retirees in the area who take pain medication to manage health problems that began in their later years. Between January and December 2016, according to the Florida Medical Examiner, there were 37 deaths involving oxycodone. The drug was the cause of 17 of those deaths, and it was reported present in 20. However, oxycodone was not the only drug present in the body in any of the deaths; it was instead reportedly mixed with other substances, including other prescription drugs and alcohol. Most of the people who died from oxycodone-involved drug overdoses were 35 or older.
There were also 13 deaths involving hydrocodone — three in which the drug caused the death and was the only substance present; 10 overdose deaths reported that hydrocodone was one of two or more drugs present at death. When there were multiple drugs involved, most of those victims were over the age of 50; when hydrocodone caused the overdose, one person was 26 to 34 years old, and two people were 35 to 50 years old.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), methadone is being more widely prescribed as a treatment for chronic pain, especially among Medicaid and Medicare patients, because it is inexpensive and lasts for a long time. In Collier County, methadone was reportedly involved in 16 overdose deaths, and it was found to be the cause of death in 11 of those overdoses. It was the only drug found present in the body in five overdoses, of which it was reportedly the cause of death in four cases. Most people who overdosed on methadone in Collier County were over 35 years old.
Morphine was reported in 34 overdose deaths in Collier County, of which it was believed to be the cause in 19 of those deaths. None of the deaths involved just morphine, and the drug was instead found mixed with other substances. While most of the morphine-involved deaths were people over the age of 50, more of the victims were younger. There were three people ages 18 to 25, seven between the ages of 26 and 34, and five between the ages of 35 and 50 whose deaths were caused by morphine. This may be due to the metabolic relationship between heroin and morphine; however, there were 15 deaths from heroin, all of which reported that heroin was the cause of death.
Additionally, as fentanyl is increasingly a problem around the U.S., there were 14 reported fentanyl deaths in Naples; in 12 of them, fentanyl was the reported cause of death.
Illicit drugs: Although cocaine is technically a Schedule II substance, it is most often found as a drug of abuse. In Naples, there were 40 overdose deaths reported in 2016 involving cocaine; in 21 of those cases, cocaine was the cause of death, and it was involved in 19 cases. There were five deaths in which cocaine was the only drug in the body, indicating that it is typically abused alongside other substances including alcohol, opioids, and marijuana.
Other prescription drugs: Alongside opioid abuse, benzodiazepine abuse is on the rise in the United States, including in Naples, Florida. In 2016, the Florida Medical Examiners reported that alprazolam (Xanax) was found in 33 deaths, and it was believed to be the cause of nine of those deaths. Two deaths had only alprazolam in the system, and there were other drugs in combination with alprazolam in the other 31 deaths.
Most people in Naples are older adults or retirees, so of the nine deaths caused by alprazolam, seven were people between the ages of 25 and 50; one was 26 to 34 years old; and the last was over 50. Among those who died with alprazolam and other substances in their blood, 12 out of 24 were over the age of 50. This is likely because older adults are much more likely to take multiple prescriptions, and they are at risk of mixing these up in fatal ways or combining another drug like alcohol with their prescription medication, which can lead to accidental overdose death. Diazepam (Valium) deaths were similar. Of the 11 people who died with diazepam in their body, the drug was the cause of one death, and it was found mixed with other substances in all 11 of those deaths. In the one instance when diazepam was the cause of death, the individual was over 50 years old; in the other instances, nine were over 50 years old, and one was between 35 and 50 years old.