Governor Desantis bringing “first of its kind” Opioid recovery program to the Panhandle

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 10:48 PM CDT
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GULF COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - In 2021, there were more than 8,000 reported overdose deaths in Florida. Since 2015, Fentanyl-related overdose deaths have increased by 790%. That’s why Wednesday, Governor Ron Desantis was joined by Florida health officials to announce the expansion of a new, piloted substance abuse and recovery network to “disrupt” the opioid epidemic.

“This is something that’s had massive, massive impacts on families, on individuals, on communities, on states, and on our country. So, we need to do everything we can to fight back against it,” said Desantis.

That pilot program is called Coordinated Opioid Recovery, or “CORE,” and Desantis coordinated with the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Children And Families (DCF). Desantis said “CORE” is the first of its kind in the nation and places Florida as a leader in sustainable addiction and opioid recovery.

“When you are putting Fentanyl out on the streets in the state of Florida, you are killing people by doing that,” said Desantis.

“CORE” was piloted in Palm Beach County for the past two years, but will soon be implemented in 12 other counties. One local county will be included in phase one.

“Gulf County, as all rural counties and any county within the state of Florida, is dealing with the Opioid crisis now,” Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison said.

But Harrison said he doesn’t believe gulf county is in a “crisis mode.”

“There are problems and we continue to focus in on that as best we can. We deal with a lot of Methamphetamine issues over here and the Opioids seem to be going hand in hand with that,” said Harrison.

Problems the sheriff’s office sees firsthand when responding to overdoses.

“We’ve had a few this year and statistically we’re looking at about the same stats as Florida does. It looks to be that a majority of them are related to Opioids,” said Harrison.

That’s why Harrison says he’s happy “CORE” is another way to get the people of Gulf County the help they need.

“I just think after the hurricane, we fell into a slump, but this is just another way of pulling us out and helping with true recovery, both for the area and for our patients,” said Harrison.

Recovery that’s hoped to go a long way not only in Gulf County but statewide.

“I think it will really help us in hopefully getting some of the true victims out there identified and trying to get them the help that they need,” said Harrison.

Desantis said standard treatment programs have had limited success in creating long-term recoveries for life-long illness. That’s why he said this comprehensive approach expands every aspect of substance use disorder.

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