WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — The number of fatal drug overdoses in Palm Beach County is on the rise. Today, August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day.
Experts say it's important to realize that one of the reasons for the increase is the COVID-19 pandemic. This has resulted in more anxiety and some people turn to drugs to cope with this.
"Coming off any substance is a lifetime journey that needs help, support, family support," said Jamie Richartz, director of counseling services at the Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County, Inc.
She says every therapist who works there is trained in the use of Narcan, an antidote that can reverse the effects of a drug overdose and save someone's life.
Richartz says they can provide Narcan nasal spray for free to anyone who wants it, so that they are able to administer it if a friend or relative experiences a drug overdose. The instructions are right on the package.
Richartz says she lost a close friend to a drug overdose in July 2015.
"It's very tragic because you see someone who could do so much and had so much life left and to know that things could've been different is difficult to go through. It definitely was a shock for me," she said.
Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County, Inc. provides drug addiction counseling and therapy.
According to the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office, Palm Beach County had 447 drug overdose deaths in 2018, 520 in 2019 and 622 in 2020.