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Fighting Florida's Opioid Addiction after Loss of $20 Million Federal Grant


Florida's opioid addiction crisis, already declared a "public health emergency" by Gov. Rick Scott, now faces a funding crisis: a $20.4 million federal block grant for substance abuse and mental health unexpectedly ended, leaving Florida lawmakers scrambling to find funding while treatment providers struggle to treat a growing crisis with fewer resources. 

The governor's health emergency declaration gives access to a different federal program promising millions of dollars for medications like ​naltrexone, sold for roughly $1,000 per dose under the brand name Vivitrol, which help fight addiction by blocking the euphoria of opioids and other drugs like alcohol. But that majority of that money—more than 85 percent—is allocated for medications, leaving approximately $4 million to fund other tools in the treatment toolbox, like therapy, rehabilitation programs, staff, and software. That's despite lawmakers already allocating more than $10 million for naltrexone treatments alone.

Maggie Baldwin, the director of the Crossroads Continuum adult substance abuse program at the David Lawrence Center, joins Gulf Coast Live to discuss how the Crossroads program treats addiction, how that program will be impacted by reduced funding in Florida, and why "medication alone won't help."

Also joining the program is Rep. Kathleen M. Peters of St. Petersburg, to discuss how Florida lawmakers can address the issue of state funding for opioid addiction after the loss of federal programs.

Editor's note: a version of this story appeared online erroneously stating the governor's $27 million disaster declaration "can't be used to fund other tools in the treatment toolbox." The above text reflects corrections that, in fact, approximately $4 million will be spent on additional programs and training.

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