Back in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Florida and its population were perhaps the biggest abusers of prescription painkillers. The state was previously known to have 98 out of the 100 US doctors who prescribed the most oxycodone, but things have changed since then.
The Sunshine State was also lenient in their prescription pill dispensing system because it lacked strict oversight, which likely contributed to its prescription painkiller abuse and misuse problem. But the CDC released their July 2014 issue of 'Vital Signs' - a graphic fact sheet and website - on opioid painkiller prescribing, noting that Florida has recorded two years of declining opioid deaths.
According to the latest CDC Vital Signs report, 46 people die each day from an overdose of prescription painkillers in the United States, with ten of the highest painkiller-prescribing states being located in the South. In 2012 there were over 259 million prescriptions written for painkillers, and the population of the United States is just over 316 million.
Fortunately for Florida they're witnessing decreases, as other parts of the country - particularly the South and the New England area - are experiencing serious issues with opioids. From 2010 to 2012 Florida's rate of opioid-related deaths decreased by 17 percent. The death rates for other prescription drugs, including the anxiety medication Alprazolam, also decreased because of the implementation of a statewide system to monitor prescriptions.
"These changes may well represent the first well-documented, substantial decline in drug overdose mortality in any state in the past 10 years," said CDC Director Tom Frieden in this Bloomberg Businessweek article. "There was a real decline in not just prescription opioid deaths, but all drug overdose deaths, including illicit drugs."
Frieden does not believe any other state in the US experienced similar declines as Florida has, but that's still unknown because national mortality numbers have yet to be reported. The CDC suggests that states consider more ways to implement and further improve their prescription drug monitoring programs while also keeping in mind public policy options to help mitigate the nationwide issue. New England states, specifically Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine are in dire need of such regulation.
However, Florida still has some work to do. Their opioid use is still well above the national average, having between 72 and 82 opioid prescriptions per 100 people. The southern states with 96-143 prescriptions per 100 people (the highest rate) include Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
You can read more about the painkiller prescription rates in each state in this NBC News article.