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opioid addiction

Ken Ouellette, employment coordinator for the VIP-ER program, helps program participants build resumes and write cover letters.
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

In a two-story Salvation Army building in Sarasota a bustling, multi-agency program helps people with substance abuse issues.

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Street racing, vegetable gardens and opioid abuse are among the topics of several bills Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into Florida law Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, DeSantis will sign a bill this morning on the University of South Florida's Office of Veteran Success. 

There's a proposal in Tallahassee right now that could make it easier for injection drug users to trade dirty needles for fresh ones -- preventing the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

A trial project in Miami Dade County is the only legal needle exchange in Florida. The bill would let the other counties to create something similar.

The 2019 legislative session begins Tuesday. Over 60 days, lawmakers will tackle the states’ biggest issues, including school safety, education and health care.

Palm Beach County has been the epicenter of the opioid crisis in Florida. But data from the county’s state attorney office shows opioid deaths decreased 41 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Julio Ochoa/Health News Florida

It's not even 6 a.m. when Amy and Christie begin a 45 minute drive south. 

The two friends are headed to a clinic in Hernando County where they’ll get a dose of methadone. They take this trip seven days a week, they said, to keep from relapsing into the pill addiction that nearly destroyed their lives.

Courtesy of the Sarasota County Fire Department / WUSF Public Media

Paramedics in Sarasota County are turning away from opioids to treat patients in pain.

Instead, they will primarily use nitrous oxide also known as laughing gas.

Florida’s foster kid population is growing at an alarming rate. That’s part of what will be discussed during an upcoming webinar.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Hillsborough County has joined the state of Florida in suing 14 opioid manufacturers and distributors, including Purdue Pharma - the maker of Oxycontin.

Daniel/Flikr

Hillsborough County is filing a lawsuit against drug companies that contributed to the opioid addiction crisis.

For most of her childhood, growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania, Kelly Zimmerman felt alone and anxious.

She despaired when her mother was depressed or working late shifts; when her parents fought nonstop; when her friends wanted to come over, and she felt too ashamed to let them see her home's buckling floor, the lack of running water.

Kelly tried to shut out those feelings, and when she was 18, a boyfriend offered her an opioid painkiller — Percocet.

Her anxiety dissolved, at least for a little while.

WUSF

Saturday is National Drug Take Back Day, in which people are encouraged to clean out their old prescriptions and properly dispose them. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is one of many police departments that will be participating.

Danny Alvarez, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson, said that properly disposing drugs will protect everyone from potential opioid abuse.

Senate Backs Expansion Of Needle Exchange Program

Mar 5, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, agreed Friday to scale back his efforts to take a needle-exchange program statewide.

Sessions To Discuss Opioid Epidemic In Tampa

Feb 5, 2018

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will appear Wednesday in Tampa to address drug trafficking and the opioid epidemic, the Justice Department said Monday. 

House Looking To Earmark $50 Million For Opioid Battle

Jan 25, 2018

The Florida House wants to target $50 million toward opioid treatment and prevention in the upcoming year and spend about $1 million on a statewide prescription-drug database, the top House health-care budget writer said Tuesday.

Needle Exchange Program Passes Committee

Jan 25, 2018

New legislation expanding a needle-exchange program moved through both the Florida House and Senate today. 

The nation-wide opioid epidemic is getting worse. According to Florida's Department of Law Enforcement, there were nearly 6,000 opioid-related deaths in our state in 2016--a 35 percent increase from 2015. While there is no single solution, Naples' David Lawrence Center is using a grant to use a different approach to combat the problem.

Senate Panel Looks To 'Stem The Tide Of Addicts’

Jan 17, 2018

Doctors would be limited to ordering a maximum of seven days’ worth of potentially addictive medications for patients with acute pain and would have to consult a statewide database before writing the prescriptions, under a sweeping measure approved Tuesday by a key Senate committee.

The Florida Legislature didn’t waste a moment during its first week when it came to addressing the opioid addiction crisis that is exploding across the state.

Proposal Aimed At Helping Opioid-Addicted Infants

Dec 8, 2017

In hopes of reducing the costs of caring for opioid-addicted infants and increasing their comfort, a Senate health care panel on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would lead to licensing niche social-service providers and allowing them to participate in the Medicaid program.

The Reflections treatment center looked like just the place for Michelle Holley's youngest daughter to kick heroin. Instead, as with dozens of other Florida substance abuse treatment facilities, the owner was more interested in defrauding insurance companies by keeping addicts hooked, her family says.

This week South Carolina decided to sue the maker OxyContin for deceptive marketing.

Widespread incidents of fraud have given the South Florida addiction treatment industry a black eye. Law enforcement has been cracking down — with strong support from the treatment industry’s legitimate providers.

About five years ago, Dillon Katz, entered a house in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"I walked in and the guy was sitting at this desk — no shirt on, sweating," Katz says.

The man asked Katz for a smoke.

"So I gave him a couple cigarettes," Katz says. "He went around the house and grabbed a mattress from underneath the house — covered in dirt and leaves and bugs. He dragged it upstairs and threw it on the floor and told me, 'Welcome home.' "

In late May, several senators went to the floor of the Senate to talk about people in their states who are affected by the opioid crisis. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., talked about Chelsea Carter.

"She told me her drug habit began when she was 12 years old," said Capito.

  

Ty Hernandez was mending a broken heart when he felt a cold coming on.

His mom, Peggy, did the mom thing.

“You’ve got to rest and drink fluids.” she said. “The next morning, I left a note on the counter with some chicken noodle soup and said, ‘I hope you feel better. Call me if you need anything.’ And I went to work.”

Of the three medications that treat opioid addiction, one got more attention in the Florida Legislature this year.

A new report from Florida medical examiners finds fentanyl caused more deaths than any other drug in Florida last year.

Local officials are raising concerns about drug use at hurricane shelters, saying they aren't equipped to care for addicts, unaccompanied minors and others with other medical needs.