Drug rehab centers like North Tampa Behavioral Health in Wesley Chapel are so busy, they can't even keep up with the number of people needing treatment for opioids and heroin addiction. At this facility, they're going to add more beds soon to be able to help more people. But there's this surprising rule right now that doctors can only prescribe opioid treatment to 100 patients.
That's why Wednesday, the Obama administration is asking Congress for about $1 billion to allow doctors to help more patients with these lifesaving drugs. That money would pave the way for more lifesaving drugs, and would help the federal government monitor who is prescribed drugs, how they are being abused, and why unused medications aren't disposed of properly.
"[In the] beautiful Tampa Bay and Clearwater area that we live in we have thousands and thousands of untreated heroin addiction cases," says John Templeton of Footprints Beachside Recovery in Treasure Island.
On Wednesday, Pfizer, the world's second-largest drug company, has also agreed to warn customers about the serious risk of addiction, and promised not to promote opioids for unapproved uses like long-term back pain.
Here in Tampa Bay drug rehab experts tell us something must be done.
"It could be your best friend, your brother or your sister. A lot of times you never know until it is too late," says Templeton.
More people are dying from drug overdoses than car accidents. And yet, only 12% of drug abusers are getting the treatment they need from rehab centers.