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As Pill Fight Heats Up, Heroin on Increase

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Wouldn't it be a sad irony if Florida curbed the illegal trade in opiate pills, only to see addicts shift to heroin?

That's suggested in one of three drug-related reports published on Thursday:

--The Miami Heraldcites a recent law-enforcement study as showing heroin deaths, which had been declining since 2001, began to creep up again in 2011. Orlando had the most heroin deaths, and Miami was second.

In interviews, physicians and drug-abuse experts told the Herald they see early signs of opiate addicts switching from oxycodone, a prescription painkiller,  to the chemically similar but still illegal street drug. They say there is a desperate need for detox centers.

-- A nurse who admitting stealing pain drugs from patients when she worked at a major hospital in Tampa has been arrested in Brevard County on charges of forging prescriptions.  The Orlando Sentinel reports that registered nurse Tabetha Terry, 30, worked at a cancer center until her November arrest in connection with fake prescriptions for oxycodone. State records show the same nurse got in trouble in 2009 for taking drugs intended for her patients at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

--Highlands Today reports that "bath salts," AKA "Spice" and "glass cleaner," are still for sale at convenience stores in Sebring even though they are banned. Some have been rebranded with names that may be intended to appeal to children, "Scooby Snax" and "Cotton Candy."

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.