Heroin Crisis Has Hit Trump’s Florida Back Yard

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Across the bridge from Mar-a-Lago, the private club owned by President Trump in Palm Beach, Fl., where he spent seven weekends this past winter golfing and entertaining visiting heads of state, it’s not uncommon to see teenage junkies nodding off on coffee shop couches or to come upon them shooting up in supermarket bathrooms, Politico reports. Heroin addicts like to get high in public places because if they accidentally overdose, there’s somebody around to call an ambulance. Palm Beach paramedics responded to 5,000 overdose calls last year, nearly 600 of them fatal. Trump promised in March “to help those who have become so badly addicted.” The “total epidemic” that Trump says is “probably almost untalked about” is in his backyard.

Palm Beach County’s heroin crisis is both similar to the misery that has gripped economically ruined communities throughout the Rust Belt and also notably different. Palm Beach County is dubbed “the recovery capital of America” because it’s home to many drug treatment centers. Its reputation as a balmy locale to get well has been hard hit because of the proliferation of corrupt “sober homes,” communal houses for addicts who arrive from around the U.S., lured by offers of free rent, airplane tickets and even gym memberships. The operators, many of whom lack  professional training, either ignore rampant drug use at their facilities or even supply their clients with heroin so they can funnel them to outpatient drug treatment centers in exchange for bribes, an illegal practice known as “body brokering.” Police blame a troubling surge in heroin overdoses in part on bad sober homes. The health care repeal bill before Congress would cut off insurance money guaranteed under Obamacare that these sober homes have used as an ATM. The loss of treatment money will be felt by the reputable homes and treatment centers as well, leaving thousands of addicts vulnerable.

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