Ex­perts: Com­pre­hen­sive ef­fort needed in opi­oid fight

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE -

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.

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