Senator Marco Rubio is in Washington D.C. pushing for a solution to heroin abuse. It's a huge problem across the country and in Tampa Bay, taking lives and costing us billions of dollars.
What are some new ideas to combat the heroin issue:
One way Rubio wants to tackle the problem is by targeting drug wholesalers.
Imagine this: A pharmacy typically orders 5,000 tablets per month. Then one month they order 30,000 tablets. Then 60,000, then 100,000 tablets. That's been happening at drug wholesalers across the nation, and a CBS News investigation found many of them weren't reporting the suspicious activity to the DEA.
Rubio is also expected to stress the importance of cutting off the drug supply from the Mexican border.
How bad is the problem in Florida?
Florida is amongst the top 10 states for heroin overdoses, and in Manatee County, more people are dying from heroin than anywhere else in Florida.
It's a problem snatching lives and snatching your money, as our local leaders search endlessly for a solution.
To illustrate just how huge this problem has become, get this: In Manatee and Sarasota counties in 2011: 2 people died from heroin overdoses. Last year, it killed 77.
How did heroin get to be such an enormous issue?
So, what happened? Florida cracked down on prescription pill mills. While that's good, it ignited a scary side effect. Addicts moved from prescription pills to heroin.
And that CBS investigation found even though drug wholesalers are getting dinged with multi-million dollar fines, they're making billions of dollars off selling the pills drug dealers use to make heroin.
It's costing you...a lot.
The latest estimates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show the heroin problem in the US is costing us between 20 and 30 Billion dollars.
It will soon cost you more.
And it's going to start draining even more of our tax dollars soon, as prices skyrocket for the treatment our local hospitals, EMTS and firefighters use to counteract overdoses.
As Senator Rubio, congress, and President Obama push to make a drug that can reverse overdoses more available, the price of naloxone is now 17 times higher than it was just a few years ago.
What that means for you is more money out of your wallet being used to treat this problem, as our local first responders stock up on the drug.
Heroin is tying up emergency resources too.
Besides costing us billions of dollars, heroin overdoses are tying up our firefighters and police officers. One day in Manatee County, they had 11 overdoses. The Southern Manatee Fire Rescue Chief tells 10News sometimes they respond to the same person two, even three times a day for heroin overdoses.
When ambulances and police officers are tied up on those calls, they have to reach out to help from other nearby fire stations, which may have a longer drive to get to you.
One way local leaders are addressing the heroin problem:
One way emergency leaders are trying to stem the problem is giving addicts only two options when they overdose: Go to jail or get to rehab.
Marco Rubio will be speaking about the heroin epidemic in Washington D.C. at 9am Thursday.