Pubdate: Tue, 19 Apr 2005
Source: Press Journal  (Vero Beach, FL)
Copyright: 2005, The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Adam L. Neal, staff writer
Bookmark: (Methadone)


INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Sheriff's Office Sgt. Lonnie Rich said the county's 
Multi-Agency Criminal Enforcement unit is accustomed to recovering 
marijuana and cocaine during drug busts.

Detectives said they even recover heroin, Ecstasy and forms of oxycodone 
when doing raids.

But a drug traditionally uncommon to the area has started to show up 
occasionally -- methadone.

"We have seen an increase in the illegal use of methadone," said Rich, who 
is a MACE supervisor. "We haven't seen a huge increase, but we have noticed 

With the recent death of a 19-year-old Vero Beach man ruled as a methadone 
overdose, the use of the highly lethal drug may be on the rise in Indian 
River County.

Methadone is a synthetic drug typically used for treating chronic pain and 
helping heroin addicts get clean.

Although methadone clinics for addicts are sparsely scattered throughout 
the state, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports 
methadone-related deaths continue to rise.

Vero Beach's closest methadone clinic is in Cocoa Beach.

In 2001, 357 deaths in Florida were attributed to the use of methadone. 
That number jumped to 556 in 2002 and reached an all-time high in 2003 at 
608, according to the FDLE.

Medical examiners determined methadone was the sole cause of death in about 
55 percent of the 2002 cases where the drug was present. That percentage 
increased in 2003 to 60 percent, the report stated.

Methadone was second only to heroin as the most common cause of death both 

"It is infrequent to have a (criminal) methadone case, but we do have 
them," Assistant State Attorney Ryan Butler said.

More than 75 percent of the methadone deaths were ruled accidents both 
years, the report stated.

Medical experts have said methadone's delayed narcotic effect is one reason 
the drug is so deadly. Inexperience users could overdose without even 
knowing it.
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