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Advocates, Officials Talk Solutions On International Overdose Awareness Day

South Florida officials and advocates rallied at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton Thursday night to highlight International Overdose Awareness Day.

Officials from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties spoke with the crowd about potential solutions to the crisis.

A lack of public treatment beds is a problem throughout the region.

Credit Peter Haden / WLRN
Representatives from Rebel Recovery distribute free Narcan and usage training at the FedUp 2017 rally at Florida Atlantic University on Aug. 31, 2017.

Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Melissa McKinley says the the county is developing plans to open a receiving facility for drug users in an old county stockade building near the fairgrounds. The building is currently vacant.

“If they need a temporary stay and detox bed, we’re hoping to have around 25-35 treatment beds at this facility,” said McKinley.

Funding for the facility would initially come out of a $3 million pool the county allocated earlier this year to attack the overdose epidemic.

McKinley said the county is also seeking to appoint a drug tsar to coordinate its response to the crisis.

Broward County Assistant State Attorney Maria Schneider said county prosecutors were being advised on methods to crack down on corruption in the drug treatment industry by the Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force.

Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Russell Benford discussed his county’s programs for assisting recovering drug users with transportation. Miami-Dade also has the only needle exchange center in Florida.

Speakers stressed the importance of educating the public on the disease of addiction and eliminating the stigma associated with it.

The rally concluded with a candlelight vigil to honor those who died from drug overdoses.