Opioids

Julie Eldred has been struggling with addiction to opioids for more than a decade and she says the criminal justice system punishes her for it.

Eldred, a part-time pet caretaker in Acton, Mass., was put on probation last year for theft. She knew staying drug-free would be tough — especially at first, when she was going through opioid withdrawal. But, she says, she didn't have much of a choice.

needle of NARCAN drug
Charles Krupa AP / WLRN

Defeating one opioid overdose, one nasal spray at a time. That’s how the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) is going about the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Sheriff deputies in Broward have been armed with overdose reversal nasal sprays since June, but the Florida Sheriffs Association just gave BSO a big boost by shipping 1,200 units of the medication this week so more deputies are able to carry it on them every day. 

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., has withdrawn his name from consideration as America's drug czar, President Trump said Tuesday. Marino is stepping back days after reports that legislation he sponsored hindered the Drug Enforcement Administration in its fight against the U.S. opioid crisis.

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Doctors would be limited to prescribing seven days' worth of opioids for patients with acute pain and would have to check a statewide database before ordering most prescription pain medications, under a proposal filed Friday in the state House.

The 114-page bill, sponsored by House Commerce Chairman Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, incorporates proposals put forward by Gov. Rick Scott aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic that has engulfed the state.

Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday several proposals and $50 million in funding to help address Florida's looming opioid crisis.

The attorneys general of 41 U.S. states said Tuesday that they're banding together to investigate the makers and distributors of powerful opioid painkillers that have, over the past decade, led to a spike in opiate addictions and overdose deaths.

Peter Haden / WLRN

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.

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.

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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. 

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.

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