Alarming spike in drug overdoses may be linked to COVID-19
Alarming spike in drug overdoses may be linked to COVID-19 (WPEC)

The numbers don’t lie; drug overdoses are up in Martin County

One Martin County Sheriff's Office official says it’s about the worst he’s ever seen it.

“I think it’s an issue and it’s something that we are pulling out the stops and utilizing our people and our resources to try to combat," Maj. John Budensiek said. 

Detectives are taking drugs off the street and trying to concentrate on a growing problem. They think COVID-19 is a contributing factor to the sudden increase in overdoses. 

“We know we’re in the middle of a pandemic. People are depressed, people are probably turning to drug and alcohol abuse and use more than they would before," Maj. Budensiek said.

At this time last year in 2019, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office says there were 90 drug overdoses and 14 drug overdose deaths.

Now in 2020, they’ve seen 138 overdoses and 28 drug overdose deaths so far.

“Anytime you have a spike like that it is alarming," Budensiek said.

They’ve taken three alleged drug dealers off the street in the past few days. Each of them is charged with sale of fentanyl, a very dangerous drug that can be lethal.

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Detectives say in order to boost their profits and rake in more money, drug sellers sometimes add fentanyl—which costs a lot less—to heroin and cocaine to increase the amount of doses they have to sell.

Some feel the spike in drug overdoses is being fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think a lot of this especially right now we are seeing is coming from COVID-19," said Caroline Franklin, a clinical therapist at Retreat Behavioral Health, a drug abuse treatment facility in Lake Worth Beach.

Franklin says the coronavirus pandemic has caused more anxiety.

“I think the anxiety is increasing which then sometimes turns people towards drugs," she said.

With many people out of work due to COVID-19, she says they have more time on their hands.

"A huge portion of people are socially isolated. Whether they were working before or not, an increased amount of depression and anxiety is being seen right now," Franklin said. "Everyone being home and not having as much interaction with people that they consider their support people, people they care about, can be really detrimental." 

One sheriff’s office official says to try to reduce the number of drug overdoses and deaths, they have detectives going out to interview people who’ve overdosed and survived, telling them they got some bad dope laced with fentanyl. They hope the user will give up the name of their dealer or seller, when they realize the deadly consequences of these street drugs.

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