MIAMI
10/25/2012 11:34 am ET Updated Oct 26, 2012

Florida Prescription Drug Deaths Mark First Decrease In Almost A Decade, Study Says

Fewer Floridians are dying from prescription drug abuse for the first time in years and Miami is still a capital of cocaine abuse, according to a newly released study from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Medical Examiner’s Commission.

"Within two years of establishing our prescription drug abuse efforts, Florida has seen a decrease in prescription drug deaths for the first time in nearly a decade,” said State Attorney General Pam Bondi in a statement, chalking the improvement up to the state's massive crackdown on pain clinics and pill mills that overprescribe prescription drugs.

The study tracked deaths in 2011 in which drugs were found in the deceased’s body -- 9,135 total -- and investigated how many drugs were found and if any caused death.

Overall, 6.7 percent fewer people had at least one prescription drug in their system compared to 2010, and 2.8 percent fewer people died with one or more prescription drugs in their systems.

Most notably, deaths caused by the prescription painkiller oxycodone dropped 17.7 percent from 2010, and the drug was found in 10.7 percent fewer bodies. The presence of alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication, also decreased by 14.3 percent.

This is good news for Florida, as in February 2011 it was found that doctors in Sunshine State pill mills were prescribing 10 times more oxycodone than the other 49 states combined.

On the downside, street drugs were found and determined to be the cause of death more often in 2011: cocaine caused 7.7 percent more deaths and was found 3 percent more often.

Miami-Dade County was on the low end in Florida when it came to prescription drug deaths involving alprazolam, diazepam, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and morphine -- but true to form, the county had some of the highest numbers in the state concerning cocaine and heroin.

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