Serving nearby areas by Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, Florida




          The South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (SFLHIDTA) program conducted a comprehensive strategic assessment of the threat posed to South Florida by the abuse of both licit and illicit drugs. The program, receiving federal funds from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, recently published its report on “Drug Use Trends.” The report analyzed data from various state agencies, including the Medical Examiners Commission, the Department of Children and Families, and the Department of Health.


          As a preliminary matter and to put this information in its proper context, relevant parameters that governed the data-gathering process performed by SFLHIDTA must be outlined:

  • The SFLHIDTA region represents Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Martin, and Monroe Counties, accounting for approximately 31% of Florida residents;
  • The report analyzed available data from as far back as 2009, with the most recent being interim data from the first six months of 2019.


Depending on the circumstances, the report data can be utilized to inform any number of policy decisions resulting from diverse conclusions. Thus, the following key takeaways are subjective in their inclusion in this summary. However, these points of information are nevertheless objectively crucial to addressing South Florida's substance use epidemic.

  1. Critical Intelligence Gap: How effective are opioid overdose mitigation efforts?

Efforts to increase the availability of the rapidly reversing opioid overdose medication Naloxone (or Narcan), better integrate medication-assisted treatment into our judicial system (discussed here), and public awareness initiatives have undoubtedly helped curb an otherwise larger number of opioid-related deaths. However, it isn't easy to ascertain the degree to which these efforts have proven effective. Of course, we may never be able to determine the exact number of lives saved by, for example, a public awareness campaign, but continuing to improve the information exchange between government agencies and standardizing data-gathering practices across the state would improve our understanding of substance use issues.

  1. Exploring Future Implications: Treatment for marijuana addiction remains at the top.

In 2019, treatment for marijuana addiction outranked all admissions to publicly-funded treatment programs in the SFLHIDTA, followed by alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. Over one-third of all publicly-funded treatment admissions were for marijuana addiction.

Now, the conversation surrounding this data—everything from whether marijuana is addictive or not and the socio-economic or legal reasons that explain why marijuana accounts for the largest number of publicly-funded treatment admissions—is beyond this article's scope. However, the rise of authorized marijuana use in the U.S. (and in Florida) means that many individuals are using cannabis as they concurrently engage in other forms of treatment, such as substance abuse treatment. Clinical and legal decisions will surely be influenced by research findings that suggest whether or not marijuana use during treatment serves as an obstacle to treatment success, compromises treatment integrity, or increases the prevalence or severity of relapse. Thus, understanding the foregoing issues through further research is warranted, and the conclusions drawn therefrom will most certainly shape some of the approaches to substance abuse treatment in Florida going forward.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment Industry News will be a regular feature on Romano Law Group Blog.  We intend to cover legal topics as well as research concerning Substance Use Disorder as well as other current topics.



At Romano Law Group, Rainer Boggiano is focused on representing plaintiffs in catastrophic injury matters, including wrongful death, negligence, medical malpractice, and products liability litigation.

Rainer earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in Gainesville, Florida and his Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. While attending law school, Rainer served as a judicial extern at Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal and a legal intern for ADT Security Services at its corporate headquarters in Boca Raton. He graduated with multiple Dean’s List honors and was a Pro Bono Award recipient in recognition for completing 150+ hours of community service.  Currently, he is assisting with the Pro Bono work on behalf of the Florida Association of Recovery Residences.

Rainer is active in several community organizations, having served as a volunteer for the 15th Judicial Circuit’s Guardian ad Litem Program, a tutor at the Mandel Public Library’s homework center, and a mentor for several local non-profit organizations.



Susan Ramsey is both an attorney and an RN. Ms. Ramsey’s professional experience began as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. While pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree, she was a counselor with the New Haven Rape Crisis Program. During her time with the Program, Ms. Ramsey counseled sexual assault survivors and performed seminars for local police departments, universities, and high schools.

During her time working as a registered nurse, Ms. Ramsey decided to attend law school. Ms. Ramsey graduated from CUNY Law School, and has practiced law in several different State and Federal Courts.  She is a Florida Heath Care Risk Manager and a member of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force.  Susan is Pro Bono Counsel for the Florida Association of Recovery Residences.

Ms. Ramsey actively litigates cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death on behalf of survivors, cases include injuries suffered by victims of professional product liability and medical negligence.