Opioids

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.

ep_jhu/flickr

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.

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.

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