Florida Governor Declares State Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared the state’s opioid crisis a public health emergency on Wednesday amid pleas for the government to intervene.

“The individuals struggling with drug use are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends and each tragic case leaves loved ones searching for answers and praying for help,” he said in a statement. “Families across our nation are fighting the opioid epidemic and Florida is going to do everything possible to help our communities.”

Scott’s declaration effectually allows the state to take advantage of $27 million in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the next two years. The funds will be utilized for the purposes of prevention and treatment of heroin, fentanyl and OxyContin abuse throughout the state.

Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll told WUSF Radio that the grant money will be distributed to areas most significantly battling the problem.

“I have had the opportunity to travel the state and hear directly from recovering addicts, parents who have lost their children and professionals on the front lines of this epidemic who have been working tirelessly to help those struggling in their own communities,” he also outlined in a press release.

“I am grateful for Governor Scott’s leadership, allowing the department to immediately begin drawing down on these funds which will provide much needed resources to communities across the state,” Carroll said.

Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip has also been directed by the governor to keep a standing order of Naloxen, which will be supplied to EMS responders, firefighters and police to help save lives. Philip had been on a three-day listening tour at the request of Scott, and was greeted by some who urged state leaders to declare a state of emergency.

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According to the Department of Children and Families, nearly 3,900 Floridians died from opioid overdoses in 2015 out of the 33,000 who lost their lives nationwide.

As previously reported, in March, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics released its annual report, outlining that the opioid epidemic in America “demands urgent action.”

“The most urgent drug-related public health crisis within the United States remains the ongoing opioid epidemic,” it declared. “This long-developing epidemic, spurred originally by misuse of prescription opioids within the United States, is now increasingly fueled by heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, trafficked into the United States by transnational criminal networks.”

“In 2015, for the first time, deaths from heroin alone surpassed gun homicides,” the report noted.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in February that drug overdose deaths have nearly tripled over a period of almost two decades, as an estimated 16 out of every 100,000 Americans lost their lives from an overdose in 2015, compared to 6 in 1999.

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  • Grace Kim Kwon

    USA should stay a nation worthy of the US soldiers’ sacrifice. Americans need Jesus for salvation and happiness. US children need Christian education for virtues and safety and wellness.

    • Sisyphus

      USA also needs substantive action to address addiction as the health issue it is.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        It’s so sad. USA needs to stop slandering the Christianity; it’s an insane thing to do while the population is dying from drug addictions.

        • Sisyphus

          Christians are not excluded from drug addiction. What can begin as legitimate pain management, if not managed and monitored carefully, can develop into a full blown opiate addiction.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            The weekly church goers are not addicted. Westerners claim to be Christian to look and sound civilized.

          • Sisyphus

            Just more of your non-sensical rants. Addiction is no respecter of social status or theological predilection. Attitudes like yours are part of what makes addiction such an insidious problem.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Americans should go to church on Sundays to hear the Word of God and to avoid addictions. Kepping the Sabbath holy really helps from getting addicted.

          • Sisyphus

            Will going to church on Sunday also stop heart disease & type 2 diabetes ? Last time I went to a church service, there seemed to be plenty of obese and unhealthy worshippers.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Pray for God’s help. The oceans and bees and other things are dying, and people in rich nations will be slender again. Jewish diet preserves both the human bodies and the planet the best.

    • TheLastHonestLawyer

      Sorry, but the opioid crisis is hitting hardest in states that are conservative and Christian.

      As a former member of the US Army, I didn’t serve for your faith, I served to defend the Constitution and all it stands for.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        America is a single nation regarding drug use and does not differ much from each other. Without the Judeo-Christian principles, US Constitution cannot stand. Constitution is a headless, heartless body apart from Christianity. That’s why today’s Americans push homosexuality like some mad people. Sodom is not worthy of US soldiers. America needs Christian virtues to have any meaning within.

        • TheLastHonestLawyer

          I’m sorry, but am I correct in assuming you do not like in the United States? Because you know nothing about us.

          The fact is the opioid epidemic is hitting hardest in poor, rural counties. Which also tend to be some of the most fervently Christian counties.

          Posting links here is a pain. Google “Opioid epidemic map” for facts.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            It’s comparing different acorns. USA needs Christian virtues to be happy.

          • Croquet_Player

            Grace does not live in the United States, and she has what can most charitably be described as an…idiosyncratic…viewpoint. You’ll find she states her peculiar viewpoint over, and over, and over again.

      • Croquet_Player

        Thank you very much for your service.

  • Sisyphus

    Keep kratom legal and advocate for recovery programs.

    • Lexical Cannibal

      *puts on conservative politician hat*

      Recovery programs?! More like enabling programs! Back in my day all we needed to kick a habit was a stiff upper lip! These people don’t WANT help, not really, they just want more drugs! Keep them in jail where they can contribute to society via forced labour for the benefit of private companies, AS THE FOUNDING FATHERS INTENDED.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to wash my mouth out for a very long time.