Florida’s Opioid Epidemic Declared as a Public Health Emergency in Fort Myers

Recently, Florida Governor Rick Scott classified his state’s opioid addiction crisis as a public health emergency as thousands of Floridians in Fort Myers and elsewhere have died in recent years due to the tragic opioid epidemic sweeping the nation. The emotional and financial toll the crisis has taken is impossible to quantify, and Florida is dedicating significant resources in efforts to reverse the dangerous trend with help from the governor’s declaration.

However, this new emergency classification does more than simply signify the seriousness of the opioid situation in Florida; it will allow the governor to act swiftly to address the costly damage that opioid abuse has caused to individuals, families, communities, and businesses across the state.

To speed up implementation of new programming aimed at curbing opioid abuse, the designation will allow Governor Scott to spend money to address the crisis without needing the usual approval from the legislature to free up funds. It also means that the state will be able to accept a federal grant in the amount of $54 million to provide increased access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services for all Floridians.

Mark Fontaine, executive director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, describes the importance of the emergency declaration saying, “we agree this is a public health crisis and we need to do something” and “we should be able to be more deliberate as we work with people and get them into treatment and recovery.”

The Scope of the Problem

While opioid abuse has been on the rise throughout the United States, Florida and the other southeastern states have been hit especially hard. The following statistics are meant to demonstrate the scope of the opioid epidemic in Florida, as well as highlight some key contributing factors:

In 2010, about 90 percent of the top opioid-prescribing doctors were located in Florida.
From 2014-2015 overdose deaths from opioids increased by 22.7% in Florida.
Opioid overdose was the cause of death for 3,228Floridians in 2015.
These grim findings demonstrate the tragic toll that opioid abuse has taken in Florida, and are directly tied to the governor’s decision to declare a public health emergency in his state.

First Responders & Access to Naloxone

In addition to the other benefits that Florida’s opioid emergency declaration provides, it creates additional support for first responders at the front lines of the epidemic in the state.

Emergency response personnel are often the first to arrive on the scene when an individual has overdosed on opioids. But thanks to the new emergency declaration, Florida’s first responders such as police, firefighters, and EMTs are now being provided with more access to a drug called Naloxone. Naloxone is a life-saving substance that can stop the fatal effects of an opioid overdose by blocking and reversing the effects of these drugs in the brain.

The governor’s decision dictates that first responders in Florida will have a standing order for Naloxone, meaning that their departments will be more able to combat the type of opioid overdoses that have been responsible for so much loss of life in his state.

Help for Opioid Addiction in the Fort Myers Area

If you or someone you care about has been struggling in the grips of an opioid addiction, you are likely worried about what will happen if this sort of chemical dependence continues. Without professional treatment, opioid addiction will typically worsen over time, causing further damage to all aspects of your life. Like most forms of substance abuse, opioid addiction is a progressive disease, and one that most people cannot overcome on their own, despite their best efforts and heartfelt desire to live a life that is free of drug abuse.

But despite the severity of this form of substance abuse, there are fortunately many options for comprehensive support for opioid addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions for Fort Myers residents and throughout the state of Florida.

With several different levels of treatment available, including detox if needed, Park Royal Hospital is pleased to offer multifaceted, scientifically-backed services that have proven to help countless other individuals overcome their chemical dependence.

This center is the area’s leading provider of treatment for addiction and mental and behavioral health concerns, and we welcome you to contact us if you have any questions about admittance into our hospital. To learn more about the various programs available for opioid abuse, or to hear details about any of the other types of services Park Royal Hospital provides, we encourage you to reach out to our staff at your convenience.