Opioids

Latvala Asks Scott To Free Up $20M For Opioid Fight

Aug 29, 2017

Saying the “opioid crisis presents an existential threat,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala on Monday asked Gov. Rick Scott to use executive authority to provide $20 million for opioid-related services.

Each year, more than 300 patients with chronic pain take part in a three-week program at the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Their complaints range widely, from specific problems such as intractable lower-back pain to systemic issues such as fibromyalgia. By the time patients enroll, many have tried just about everything to get their chronic pain under control. Half are taking opioids.

Peter Haden / WLRN

Drug overdose deaths are going up in Broward County.

Deaths from opioid overdoses topped 520 in 2016, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office. That’s about 10 a week.

Cocaine overdose deaths were up more than 60 percent in Broward in 2016 — to 230 people.

It’s part of an overall trend that’s wreaking havoc around the country: poly-substance abuse.

“There are no normal drugs anymore,” said Broward County Medical Examiner Dr. Craig Mallak. “Everything’s a combination.”

As an opioid epidemic tightens its grip on towns, cities, counties and states across the country, one Florida law enforcement agency is turning to tech to try to stem the tide locally and prevent the rise of heroin overdoses.

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

Peter Haden / WLRN

Law enforcement has been cracking down on corruption in South Florida’s drug treatment industry. State and federal officials have arrested more than 30 people for running scams in rehab centers or sober homes in the past year.

But the facilities are often filled with recovering drug users from out-of-state. And when the homes shut down, the residents frequently wind up on the street.

President Trump says he is ready to declare the nation's opioid crisis "a national emergency," saying it is a "serious problem the likes of which we have never had." Speaking to reporters at the entrance to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where he is on a working vacation, Trump promised "to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."

A White House commission released a report this week on America's opioid crisis with an urgent recommendation — that President Trump declare it a national emergency.

U.S. Department of Justice

An internet black market used by some Floridians to buy and sell heroin and fentanyl has been shut down in an international law enforcement operation.

Peter Haden / WLRN

Nowhere in South Florida has been hit harder by the opioid overdose epidemic than Palm Beach County.

The number of fatal opioid overdoses has gone up 230 percent in the past two years. More than 540 people died last year. All of those fatalities have to be autopsied by one of the county’s five pathologists.

Family photo

A 10-year-old Miami boy may be among the youngest victims of Florida’s opioid crisis.

Preliminary toxicology tests show that Alton Banks had the potent painkiller fentanyl in his system when he collapsed at his Overtown home in June, authorities said on Monday.

The federal government is giving the state $3 million for drug court programs in the wake of an opioid epidemic.

Manatee and Sarasota Counties have seen overdose deaths from drugs like heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil spike in the past few years. At the same time, the number of children being removed from their homes and placed into the area’s foster care system has skyrocketed. There’s a connection between the increases.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

At the suggestion of a Palm Beach County Commissioner, the county is looking into suing drug companies whose products are at the heart of the opioid crisis.

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