Experts: Comprehensive effort needed in opioid fight
million in federal funds to deal with a mushrooming opioid crisis that has resulted in some counties seeing a 300 percent increase in overdoses.
Gov. Rick Scott — who declared the opioid issue a public health emergency this year — announced that he will seek $50 million from the Legislature to deal with the issue, but he has yet to release a detailed plan for how the money would be spent.
On Thursday, substance-abuse treatment providers also asked for $50 million to address what at least one doctor called “chemical warfare” as lawmakers begin to put together a state spending plan in advance of the 2018 legislative session, which begins in January.
The number of Floridians dying from overdoses — involving prescription drugs, street drugs such as heroin or the synthetic opioid fentanyl, or combinations of the drugs — has increased steadily over the last few years, following a dip after lawmakers cracked down on prescription drug “pill mills” in 2011.
Heroin overdoses jumped by 1,000 percent between 2007 and 2015, and most experts agree the number of deaths is much higher than what is being reported by the state’s medical examiners.
Overdoses related to fentanyl, which is often mixed with heroin, also are climbing.
Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford offered a suggestion.
“One of the answers is going to be the investment in treatment resources,” he said.