Orlando: The City Beautiful? Or The Addicted City?

orlandoOrlando is ranked 67th out of 100 for the “100 Most Dangerous Cities”. Almost ⅓ of our population in Orlando work in the industries most likely to be affected by addiction (food service, construction, maintenance and repair services, and sports). We have young men on college campuses making $500/day selling prescription drugs that were legally written. We have the Parramore and Pine Hills neighborhoods where youth grow up in abject poverty and generations of fathers who struggle with addiction (and may not even be present in the home because of it)


Our statistics on addiction in Florida are staggering!

  • Florida youth (ages 11-18) have higher rates of alcohol consumption than the national average with Orange County accounting for nearly 8% of that. {Florida Dept. of Children and Families} Why is this important to me? Most youth that struggle with addiction have a parent who is an addict. Youth with fathers in poverty are more likely to be affected. However, addiction doesn’t discriminate by socioeconomic class (just look at Hollywood!)
  • Five people a day die as a direct result of prescription drug overdoses. {Florida Medical Examiners} 70% of people who abuse prescriptions get them from the medicine cabinet of a friend or family member. We’ve seen young men on college campuses making $500/day selling their pain medication.
  • In 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that one in eight weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illicit drugs. According to recent Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) data, one in three motor vehicle fatalities (33 percent) with known drug test results tested positive for drugs in 2009.
  • Marijuana, opiates, and cocaine were the 3 leading substances for drug abuse treatment in Florida for 2010; marijuana was responsible for almost twice the numbers of treatments as opiates, however.
  • As a direct consequence of drug use, 2,936 persons died in Florida in 2007. This is compared to the number of persons in Florida who died from motor vehicle accidents (3,329) and firearms (2,272) in the same year.
  • In 2008 nearly 50,000 were admitted into treatment facilities in the state of Florida. Of that number over 15,000 were admitted for marijuana addiction and almost 14,000 were admitted due to alcohol (with or without a secondary addiction to another substance. {samhsa}


Here at Fresh Start we serve clients in Orange County. How do these statistics translate to a problem in our community? How do these statistics affect your home?

If any of these statistics sound like something you or a loved one have experienced, there is help. We don’t want you to become one of these statistics.

The Many Victims of Addiction

sadThe effects of addiction on families are overlooked. While on the road to recovery, the focus is generally on the addict, the person working to recuperate from their toxic habits. However, families of addicts experience their share of hardships during the process. Families are heavily damaged during the addiction, but they also play an integral role during rehabilitation.

Feeding an addiction is a pricey task. Whether it is drugs or alcohol, those substances must be paid for, and one of the tolls addictions takes on families is a monetary one. Gone are the funds needed for survival, for food and shelter and other necessities, to instead be used on whatever drugs or alcohol the addict desires. This creates a stressor within the family, particularly between spouses. In some cases, addicts steal or lie to attain their vices. In other cases, the addiction causes the addict to lose their job, and as a result, the family has lost an important source of income. They must now work harder to compensate for the money spent on drugs or alcohol.

Unmistakably, addiction affects the addict, not only physically, but mentally as well (and more so).  Families of addicts can also suffer psychologically. Addiction is a poisonous disease that slowly changes a person’s way of thinking, ultimately leading them to become a different person. Families must witness their loved one take on a new and destructive persona, one unlike the person they once knew. This is especially taxing on children, who must now change their perceptions of their parental figure. This can lead to trust issues amongst family members, as the addict now showcases inconsistency and unreliability.

Lipstick JungleBut when the damage is done and the addict has made the important decision to clean his or her act up, it is up to the family to serve as a support system during the rehabilitation process.

Despite what the addict might have said or done under the influence, it is of the utmost importance for the family to be present during recovery. By being vocal and unconditionally supportive, the family provides the addict an incentive to get better. Families can express their concerns to the addict, detailing the destruction the addiction brought about. This can be a cathartic moment for both the addict and the families. Everything is out on the table. It is now time to let go and begin anew.

During a person’s addiction, families are damaged just as much as the addict. But families can also be the key to a full recovery and a new start.



Tired of Relapse? Try our Aftercare Housing: “Sober City”

Apartment at Sober City Living-Dining Room Kitchen Bedroom2 closet Bathroom sinkPool

Fresh Start has spent 28 years perfecting our curriculum so that each man who comes into our year-long program gets the best information, tools and counseling, much of it tailored to his individual needs. Thus, we have men graduating from the program who have made outstanding changes in their lives and have often completely remodeled themselves through Christ’s grace while here.

For many years Fresh Start has offered a small rental home as an aftercare choice in a sober living environment. But, the need is greater than what we’ve been able to accommodate. “…The fields are white unto harvest.”  Many more clients want to go into our aftercare housing but we have not had the space. So, Fresh Start saw there was a great need to expand and enhance our Aftercare Services.

Ideally, if a man completing our program is willing to submit to another 6 months of accountability with more freedoms in a sober housing environment, it increases his chance for long-term sobriety by leaps and bounds.

Because our need has been so great and we sincerely believe that learning to live outside of treatment, but with some smaller levels of accountability will help men remain sober, Fresh Start recently purchased a small, 20 unit apartment complex about 1/2 mile from our current facility for aftercare housing.  Each apartment is 2 bedroom, 2 bath and is furnished. This is a rental situation with 2 men per apartment, sharing electric and water. We are not requiring deposits or background checks that normal apartment complex’s require. There will be a required 6 month initial commitment and an option for another 6 months or possibly long-term rental. The complex is located in a quiet area, on Lake Fairview and has a pool. (see photos below).  This “sober city” will be for past, present, current and future alumni. There will be residential staff who will keep an eye on things to ensure that our sober community stays sober.

There will be some restrictions that will be spelled out in a “code of conduct” lease agreement, and it includes restrictions such as weekly support group meeting attendance and random drug screens to ensure everyone remains sober.

Currently, because we just recently purchased it and some regular tenants with leases are still living there, we initially only have 3 vacancies. As apartments come available, we will then have the opportunity to fill them with alumni.

If you are a Fresh Start alumni and are clean and sober and are interested in renting at our sober city, call the office and speak to Joe for details. 407 293-3822.

There  is also a website specifically for this at www.FSMAftercare.com 
photo - view of front building photo - Backyard view of building 12 Unit bldg KitchenBathroom Bedroom Driveway Entrance Front Yard Interior  Laundry Room   View of Unit 8

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Interview with Pastor Joe

This interview was done by an Online Addiction publication recently. Check it out:



POT: Did you know?

Research increasingly confirms that marijuana use is harmful. Acute symptoms of marijuana intoxication include impaired short-term memory, attention, judgment, and cognitive function, as well as increased heart rate.1 Symptoms that can persist for weeks after the immediate effects of marijuana have worn off include insomnia and, possibly, impaired memory and learning.2 When continued over years, a pattern of heavy, daily, or almost daily use can increase some health risks, including marijuana dependence, chronic cough or respiratory impairment, cardiovascular disease, and adverse effects on psychosocial development and mental health.2,3

The long-term effects of marijuana use on adults who initiated use as adolescents are especially striking. If marijuana use begins in adolescence when the brain is still developing, the negative impact of chronic marijuana use on cognitive function and structure can last several years and may be permanent.3,4 For example, one study of marijuana users who began using in adolescence revealed deficits in the areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory,5 which can, in turn, impact an adolescent’s ability to successfully function in the contexts of school, work, and family.1,3 Another study showed that among persistent adult marijuana users, those who started using marijuana in their youth lost as many as 8 IQ (intelligence quotient) points between the ages of 13 and 39. These lost cognitive abilities were not restored in those who quit using marijuana as adults.3

Recent data from a government report called TEDs from the (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration) SAMHSA