In 2006, over 200 unintended drug overdose deaths were reported to Palm Beach County law enforcement authorities. In approximately 84% of these tragic events,
the victim's body was found to contain more than one commonly abused drug. Frequently, a variety of illicit substances (Heroin and Cocaine) and prescription drugs
(Methadone, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Alprazolam) were the direct and immediate cause of the victim's death. Few people realize the hazards associated with combining any of
the commonly abused pharmaceuticals with illicit drugs.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is committed to diminishing the number of deaths caused by drug overdose.
Our comprehensive strategy includes:
- Educating the public on the risks associated with high risk drug misuse.
- Actively investigating and aggressively prosecuting anyone found to have illegally supplied drugs to the overdose victim.
- Conducting research to expose any situational or demographic patterns that may exist among overdose deaths. Such patterns may lay a foundation for public awareness campaigns and legislative action.
- Serving as an agency of support, cooperation and direction for families who have suffered a death due to drug overdose.
- History of substance abuse
- Previous drug overdose
- Experiencing depression
- Intravenous drug user
- Mixing drugs
Indicators of drug overdose differ depending upon the type of drug consumed.
In general, the overdose victim:
- May not awaken when roused.
- May not respond to painful stimulation such as rubbing knuckles across his or her sternum.
- May exhibit blue/purple lips, face and hands.
- May snore or struggle for breath.
- May complain of elevated body temperature.
- May vomit.
- May behave irrationally or seemed confused.
If you suspect someone is experiencing a drug overdose, you must react to this true medical emergency by calling "911" without delay.
- Tell medical professionals everything that the victim consumed or may have consumed.
- Follow the directions of the "911" operator.
- Stay with the victim until help arrives.
- Choose life first, all other considerations must come second.
- Allow the victim to "sleep it off".
- Put the victim in a bath or shower.
- Inject the victim with anything.
- Leave the victim alone.
- Treat the victim with home remedies that do not work and often postpone potentially life-saving medical treatment.
- Postpone calling "911" while cleaning up.
- Suffer a lifetime of regret for making the wrong choice.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office seeks to enlist public support and cooperation in this overall effort to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths.
In addition, the staff serves as a resource to other law enforcement agencies.
If you would like learn more about our efforts, please contact:
Dr. Susan Klarich, Ph.D.
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office
West Palm Beach, Florida 33406