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Miami Community Health and Vulnerable Population


The community explored in this assessment is Miami, Florida. It is a highly urban area with a well-developed infrastructure that focuses on providing vital health and education services to its citizens. The vulnerable population consists of drug and alcohol addicts, particularly youth and young adults. The purpose of the assessment is to identify a community health problem and analyze the impact and risk factors of the vulnerable population. Also, the city health infrastructure and resources are evaluated on the ability to treat and rehabilitate the addicts.

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Vulnerable Population Overview

The vulnerable population group consists of drug and alcohol addicts common in the large urban areas of the city. During the windshield survey, it was noticed that the vulnerable population is loud when walking in a company, have dirty clothes, and leave trash. Sometimes, they are violent and aggressive. Nonetheless, the addicts who attend rehabilitation centers act within behavioral norms. Miami is a hub for the trafficking of illegal drugs from South and Central America. This results in a steady drug flow to the population, particularly youth. In addition, there is a high rate of addiction to prescription medication.

Alcohol abuse is common as Miami has a vibrant nightlife (Drug Rehab Services, 2017). The number of admissions for substance abuse has increased in the area year over year. Alcohol abuse is most common with 1,424 cases in 2013. Marijuana, cocaine, and heroin remain the most popular street drugs. Meanwhile, it should be noted that prescription opioids are very close to alcohol in admission numbers (Hall, 2014).

Strengths, Risk Factors, and Barriers

In this case, potential health issues for the vulnerable population may pertain to rising risks of injuries, potential death due to the substance overdose, and the development of other diseases such as Hepatitis C and mental illnesses. There is a tremendous social impact as drug abuse has become a critical issue for youth development. Almost 11% of the people admitted to rehabilitation were under the age of 18. Youth becomes a vulnerable population through exposure to drugs due to social issues.

Most often, either family members or friends have problems with substance abuse, and a life surrounded by addiction will most likely lead to addiction in the future. With all types of drugs readily available in Miami, peer pressure becomes a factor for influencing youth to try illegal substances (Johnson, 2014).

The strength of the vulnerable population is that they are willing to seek rehabilitation in many public and private clinics that Miami has specialized in substance abuse. One of the most common methods nationally to combat the consequences of drug abuse is through syringe exchange programs. However, Florida does not legally allow or sponsor any related programs. A study was conducted to determine the mortality and cost of bacterial infections related to injection drug use as well as estimating the prevalence of HIV and hepatitis C amongst the vulnerable population in a Miami public hospital.

Over 12 months, 349 people were admitted with preventable drug injection-related diseases, 64% of which were bacterial, 17% had HIV, and 15% hepatitis C. Throughout, 17 people died, and an estimated cost to the healthcare system was $18.4 million. Models estimate that syringe exchange programs have a significant impact on lowering costs and preventing mortality (Tookes, Diaz, Hua, Khalid, & Dobleck-Lewis, 2015). Lack of such programs is a barrier to the vulnerable population, creating many potential health problems within the community.

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Community Resources

The window survey noticed a significant amount of rehabilitation centers in the area, indicating that the addiction is a concerning issue. There is a well-developed health infrastructure consisting of hospitals and clinics. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) federal services, Miami has 69 treatment centers focusing on various types of substance abuse problems. Many have residential treatment, counseling, and youth-related programs.

The SAMH program focused on substance abuse in communities served 107, 911 adults, and 47,422 children in Florida, with a big focus on the Miami urban area. With the prevalence of substance abuse in the community, many public facilities are well funded and staffed, offering assistance to the uninsured through state Medicaid (Florida Department of Children and Families, 2013).

Community Health Problem Diagnosis

The priority community health problem for Miami based on the researched information seems to be substance abuse and addiction in the youth and young adult population and the prevalence of drug injection diseases. A community health nurse could play a role in fixing the issue through participation in rehabilitation and education programs. Giving youth access to proper information, treatment, and counseling could prevent or resolve any issues with substance abuse. Advocating for more school and community-based programs focusing on turning people away from that lifestyle could have an impact.

A relevant Healthy People 2020 objective to focus on for this community would be SA-13.1, which states, “reduce the proportion of adolescents reporting the use of alcohol or any illicit drugs during the past 30 days” (Health People 2020, 2017). As of the 2011-2014 period, Florida remains at 16.5%, and the national target goal is around 10%.


Miami, Florida, is a flourishing urban area. However, it has a vulnerable population of youth and young adults that are impacted by substance abuse and addiction. This affects community health as drug injection-related diseases are prevalent. Also, there are social factors such as broken families, boorish street behavior, and mortality rates, which are caused by the drug epidemic. It is critical to combating the issue by instituting social programs which educate, treat, and help anyone affected by substance abuse to prevent further aggravation of the issue.


Drug Rehab Services. (2017). Treatment programs for drugs and alcohol addiction in Miami, Florida. Web.

Florida Department of Children and Families. (2013). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Plan 2014-2016. Web.

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Hall, J. (2014). Drug abuse trends in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, South Florida: 2014. Web.

Johnson, P. (2014). How substance abuse affects Florida’s kids. Web.

Tookes, H., Diaz, C., Hua, L., Khalid, R, & Dobleck-Lewis, S. (2015). A cost analysis of hospitalizations for infections related to injection drug use a country safety-net hospital in Miami, Florida. PloS ONE, 10(6). Web.

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