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Category: News

Clay County

Clay County CORE Network, Joined by DOH and DCF Leadership

Clay County, Fla. – Yesterday, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, and Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris, alongside community partners, visited the expansion of the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) in Clay County – a comprehensive network of addiction and opioid treatment.

This year, Florida has experienced over 4,000 reported fatal overdoses. In Clay County, Emergency Medical Services reported that in 2021, teams responded to nearly 1,000 overdose calls. 

The CORE Network is the first of its kind in the nation, coordinated through the Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration. The full-scale treatment approach of the CORE Network expands every aspect of overdose response and creates an all-inclusive sustained system of care and patient navigation to holistically address all primary and secondary impacts of substance use disorder.

“Addiction is heartbreaking for all involved, and we ultimately want to help people address the stress traumas that led them to addiction,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “This program is an applied, intensive application to managing addiction through powerful, effective practice that connects people to what they need to get out of the horrific cycle of addiction.”

“The existing standard of care for substance use disorder is outdated. The current overdose response in most of the United States treats the acute overdose, without providing access to sustainable care,” said Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, Deputy Secretary for Health. “That’s exactly why we’ve developed CORE. This program facilitates the necessary connections among local emergency response and specialty health care networks to not only respond to an acute overdose, but to connect individuals suffering from substance use disorder to sustainable and long-term care.”

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, there is also concern of increased substance use and overdose deaths due to the impact on individuals’ mental health and the disruption of normal pharmaceutical supply chains. It is critical that community partners provide resources to their communities as we recover from the effects of Hurricane Ian’s devastation. We must remain vigilant both now and in the long-term to prevent overdose deaths.

“The CORE Network helps further reach people who are taking the brave step toward their recovery journey,” said Department of Children and Families Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Erica Floyd Thomas. “This model demonstrates the power of peers and partnerships and is the ultimate testament of Florida’s ongoing commitment to reduce the impact that opioids are having on our children, families, and communities.”

Substance abuse is a chronic multifaceted life-threatening disease. If an individual in Clay County overdoses, specialized emergency medical services protocol will begin stabilization while transporting the patient to a specialty hospital with attained specialty expertise in addiction medicine. Once all emergent health threats are stabilized, the patient’s long term care needs will then be transferred to an expert multi-specialty outpatient practice to support sustainable recovery. 

CORE provides a personalized treatment umbrella ranging from primary care to mental health support. By facilitating these connections in Clay County, CORE disrupts the revolving door of addiction by connecting overdoses to sustainable care in real time.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with substance use disorder and would like more information on CORE in Clay County, you may contact Clay County Fire Rescue at 904-284-7703 or the Florida Department of Health in Clay County

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately. The state of Florida has deployed resources that can be posted in public areas to ensure Floridians remain vigilant of the signs of overdose, how to respond, and where help is available.

Pasco County

Pasco County CORE Network, Joined by DOH and DCF Leadership

Pasco County, Fla. – Yesterday, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, and Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris, alongside community partners, visited the expansion of the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) in Pasco County – a comprehensive network of addiction and opioid treatment.

This year, Florida has experienced over 4,000 reported fatal overdoses. In Pasco County, Emergency Medical Services reported that in 2021, teams responded to over 3,400 overdose calls. Current data indicates Pasco County is in the top 10 counties in Florida with the highest fatal overdose rates.

The CORE Network is the first of its kind in the nation, coordinated through the Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration. The full-scale treatment approach of the CORE Network expands every aspect of overdose response and creates an all-inclusive sustained system of care and patient navigation to holistically address all primary and secondary impacts of substance use disorder.

“Addiction is heartbreaking for all involved, and we ultimately want to help people address the stress traumas that led them to addiction,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “This program is an applied, intensive application to managing addiction through powerful, effective practice that connects people to what they need to get out of the horrific cycle of addiction.”

“The existing standard of care for substance use disorder is outdated. The current overdose response in most of the United States treats the acute overdose, without providing access to sustainable care,” said Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, Deputy Secretary for Health. “That’s exactly why we’ve developed CORE. This program facilitates the necessary connections among local emergency response and specialty health care networks to not only respond to an acute overdose, but to connect individuals suffering from substance use disorder to sustainable and long-term care.”

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, there is also concern of increased substance use and overdose deaths due to the impact on individuals’ mental health and the disruption of normal pharmaceutical supply chains. It is critical that community partners provide resources to their communities as we recover from the effects of Hurricane Ian’s devastation. We must remain vigilant both now and in the long-term to prevent overdose deaths.

“The CORE Network connects all of the right services – emergency medicine, hospital services, outpatient treatment, medication assisted treatment, and peer support services to holistically intervene at the right place and the right time,” said Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. “This model helps to ensure that we do not miss those pivotal moments of impact when someone is ready to get help but needs a strong and coordinated system of care to truly succeed.”

Substance abuse is a chronic multifaceted life-threatening disease. If an individual in Pasco County overdoses, specialized emergency medical services protocol will begin stabilization while transporting the patient to a specialty hospital with attained specialty expertise in addiction medicine. Once all emergent health threats are stabilized, the patient’s long term care needs will then be transferred to an expert multi-specialty outpatient practice to support sustainable recovery. 

CORE provides a personalized treatment umbrella ranging from primary care to mental health support. By facilitating these connections in Pasco County, CORE disrupts the revolving door of addiction by connecting overdoses to sustainable care in real time.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with substance use disorder and would like more information on CORE in Pasco County, you may contact BayCare Behavioral Health at 727-372-4357 or the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County.

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately. The state of Florida has deployed resources that can be posted in public areas to ensure Floridians remain vigilant of the signs of overdose, how to respond, and where help is available.

Marion County

Marion County CORE Network, Joined by DOH and DCF Leadership

Marion County, Fla. – Today, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, and Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris, alongside community partners, visited the expansion of the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) in Marion County – a comprehensive network of addiction and opioid treatment.

This year, Florida has experienced over 4,000 reported fatal overdoses. In Marion County, Emergency Medical Services reported that in 2021, teams responded to over 3,000 overdose calls. Current data indicates Marion County is in the top 10 counties in Florida with the highest fatal overdose rates.

The CORE Network is the first of its kind in the nation, coordinated through the Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration. The full-scale treatment approach of the CORE Network expands every aspect of overdose response and creates an all-inclusive sustained system of care and patient navigation to holistically address all primary and secondary impacts of substance use disorder. 

“The existing standard of care for substance use disorder is outdated. The current overdose response in most of the United States treats the acute overdose, without providing access to sustainable care,” said Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, Deputy Secretary for Health. “That’s exactly why we’ve developed CORE. This program facilitates the necessary connections among local emergency response and specialty health care networks to not only respond to an acute overdose, but to connect individuals suffering from substance use disorder to sustainable and long-term care.”

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, there is also concern of increased substance use and overdose deaths due to the impact on individuals’ mental health and the disruption of normal pharmaceutical supply chains. It is critical that community partners provide resources to their communities as we recover from the effects of Hurricane Ian’s devastation. We must remain vigilant both now and in the long-term to prevent overdose deaths.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Governor DeSantis in championing the development of the CORe Network – a comprehensive model of care in addressing the opioid epidemic,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. “We must break down the traditional siloed approach and episodic treatment of this disease if we want to break the cycle of addiction. Partnership and collaboration are key to the success of this approach, and we could not be prouder at DCF to be a part of this first-of-its kind model, along with the Department of Health and so many other community partners.”

Substance abuse is a chronic multifaceted life-threatening disease. If an individual in Marion County overdoses, specialized emergency medical services protocol will begin stabilization while transporting the patient to a specialty hospital with attained specialty expertise in addiction medicine. Once all emergent health threats are stabilized, the patient’s long term care needs will then be transferred to an expert multi-specialty outpatient practice to support sustainable recovery. 

CORE provides a personalized treatment umbrella ranging from primary care to mental health support. By facilitating these connections in Marion County, CORE disrupts the revolving door of addiction by connecting overdoses to sustainable care in real time.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with substance use disorder and would like more information on CORE in Marion County, you may contact the Ocala Fire Rescue at 352-266-4769 or the Marion County Health Department.

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately. The state of Florida has deployed resources that can be posted in public areas to ensure Floridians remain vigilant of the signs of overdose, how to respond, and where help is available.

Escambia County

Escambia County CORE Network, Joined by DOH and DCF Leadership

Escambia County, Fla. – Today, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo and Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris, alongside community partners, visited the expansion of the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) Network in Escambia county – a comprehensive network of addiction and opioid treatment.

This year, Florida has experienced nearly 2,000 reported fatal overdoses. In Escambia county, Emergency Medical Services reported that in 2021, teams responded to over 1,000 overdose calls. Current data indicates Escambia County is in the top 10 counties in Florida with the highest fatal overdose rates.

The CORE Network is the first of its kind in the nation, coordinated through the Department of Health, Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration. The full-scale treatment approach of the CORE Network expands every aspect of overdose response and creates an all-inclusive sustained system of care and patient navigation to holistically address all primary and secondary impacts of substance use disorder. 

“Substance abuse is heartbreaking for all involved, and we ultimately want to help people address all impacts of substance abuse,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “One day the standard of care will address the trauma and the stress, but until then we have the evidence-based practices that exist in place. This program is an applied, intensive application to managing addiction through powerful, effective practice that connects people to what they need to get out of the horrific cycle of addiction.”

“By partnering with community providers, and other state agencies we are able to better leverage resources so that individuals contending with a substance use disorder have access to the right array of services that will work for their individual needs,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. “As we continue to see growth in the CORE program, we know that the additional supports available through this model will help us address needs holistically instead of in a siloed approach.”

Substance abuse is a chronic multifaceted life-threatening disease. If an individual in Escambia county overdoses, specialized emergency medical services protocol will begin stabilization while transporting the patient to a specialty hospital with attained specialty expertise in addiction medicine. Once all emergent health threats are stabilized, the patient’s long term care needs will then be transferred to an expert multi-specialty outpatient practice to support sustainable recovery. 

CORE provides a personalized treatment umbrella ranging from primary care to mental health support. By facilitating these connections in Escambia county, CORE disrupts the revolving door of addiction by connecting overdoses to sustainable care, in real time.

“The existing standard of care for substance use disorder is outdated. The current overdose response in most of the United States treats the acute overdose, without providing access to sustainable care,” said Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, Deputy Secretary for Health. “That’s exactly why we’ve developed CORE. This program facilitates the necessary connections among local emergency response and specialty health care networks to not only respond to an acute overdose, but to connect individuals suffering from substance use disorder to sustainable and long-term care.”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with substance use disorder and would like more information on CORE in Escambia County, you may contact Community Health Northwest Florida at 850-436-4630 or the Escambia County Health Department.

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately. The state of Florida has deployed resources that can be posted in public areas to ensure Floridians remain vigilant of the signs of overdose, how to respond, and where help is available.

Statewide

Prescription Drug Donation Repository Program: Rx Connects

The 2020 Florida Legislature passed the Prescription Drug Donation Repository Program Act. As stated in section 465.1902, Florida Statutes, the purpose of this program is to facilitate the donation of unused and unopened prescription drugs and supplies to eligible patients. 

How does the program work?

The law allows eligible entities to apply to the Florida Department of Health to become a repository. The law also allows certain entities to donate prescription drugs and supplies to one of the approved repositories.

Once the repository has the donated drug or supply on hand, an eligible patient can make an application to the repository for the drug (or supply) and receive it free of charge with a valid prescription.

Who is eligible to become a repository?

  • Health care practitioner’s office
  • Pharmacy
  • Hospital with a closed drug delivery system*
  • Nursing home with a closed drug delivery system*
  • Free clinic or nonprofit health clinic that is licensed or permitted to dispense medicinal drugs in the state

Who is eligible to donate drugs and supplies?

  • Pharmacy
  • Hospital with a closed drug delivery system*
  • Nursing home with a closed drug delivery system*
  • Hospices that have maintained control of a patient’s prescription drugs
  • Medical device manufacturers or suppliers
  • Drug manufacturers or wholesale distributors
  • Prescribers who receive prescription drugs or supplies directly from a drug manufacturer, wholesale distributor, or pharmacy

Donations cannot be made to a repository by an individual. 

Who is eligible to request and receive drugs or supplies from a repository?

Any Florida resident who is indigent (at or below 200% of the federal poverty level) or who is underinsured or uninsured may become a patient of this program.

Help spread the word about Rx Connects, a program that has the potential to help many Floridians who are unable to afford their prescription drugs and supplies.

Additional information about Rx Connects is available on the program webpage. This program is managed by the Bureau of Public Health Pharmacy, Division of Emergency Preparedness and Community Support. Email inquiries may be sent to PrescriptionDrugDonationProgram@FLHealth.gov.

*A closed drug delivery system means a system in which the actual control of the unit-dose medication package is maintained by the facility, rather than by the individual patient.

Statewide

International Overdose Day: DOH Provides Lifesaving Naloxone through CHDs to Reduce Substance Abuse Deaths

TALLAHASSEE—Today, on International Overdose Awareness Day, the Florida Department of Health announced an initiative to ensure readily available access to naloxone, a lifesaving medication that could reduce thousands of substance abuse deaths across the state, through its county health departments.

Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, restoring breathing and consciousness within minutes of being administered to a person who has overdosed.

Increasing access to naloxone is a key component in battling the opioid epidemic, especially in rural areas or counties with limited access to health care. Providing naloxone through county health departments will increase support to individuals across the state dealing with substance use disorder and help prevent overdose deaths in Florida.

“Addressing the opioid epidemic is a top priority for the state,” said Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke. “In 2021, almost 8,000 people in Florida lost their lives to drug overdoses, the highest one-year total ever recorded in our state.”

This expansion is a result collaboration with the Florida Department of Children and Families through the Overdose Prevention Program, or I Save FL, which facilitates the distribution of naloxone kits to families, friends, and caregivers of those at risk for an opioid overdose. These naloxone kits consist of two naloxone nasal sprays that can be administered even without a health care professional present.

This effort complements the Florida Department of Health’s HEROS (Helping Emergency Responders Obtain Support) program that provides free naloxone to emergency response agencies.

“The iSaveFL website provides information on finding naloxone in your community as well as resources on treatment, overdose education and prevention,” said County Health Systems Statewide Medical Director Dr. Ulyee Choe. “A big part of this initiative will be educating the community and working with partners to address the opioid epidemic.”

Through the initial phase of this initiative, 16 county health departments (Baker, Bradford, Union, Franklin, Gulf, Gadsden, Gilcrest, Levy, Glades, Hendry, Hamilton, Hardee Jefferson, Madison, Lafayette, and Suwanee) received 1,500 naloxone kits. The next phase of this initiative will expand naloxone distribution to all 67 county health departments in Florida.

This initiative is part of the state’s response to the overdose crisis. This month, Governor Ron DeSantis launched the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) program – the first of its kind in the nation – to provide comprehensive and sustainable care to those affected by substance use disorder.

A public health and safety alert was also deployed by the Florida Department of Health on July 8, 2022 to ensure Floridians remain vigilant of the signs of overdose. Print and digital educational materials that help Floridians identify signs of an overdose and how to respond.

Where is substance use disorder assistance available?

For questions regarding potential overdoses and other drug-related exposures, Florida’s Poison Control Centers are a valuable resource to individuals throughout Florida, including emergency personnel.  Poison Control Centers are staffed by health care professionals that are specifically trained to provide assistance in treating drug overdoses or assessing patients exposed to drugs of abuse. Medical toxicologists are available 24/7 for physician consultations.  For poisoning questions or emergencies, call 1-800-222-1222.  Visit the website at FloridaPoisonControl.org.

HEROS (Helping Emergency Responders Obtain Support) is a Florida Department of Health program that provides free naloxone to emergency response agencies. Since the inception of the program in 2018, over 455,000 doses have been distributed to emergency response agencies in Florida through HEROS. All first responders in Florida are eligible to request free naloxone through this program.

If you or your organization are interested in obtaining or managing naloxone for the community, please visit I SAVE FL to find available resources through the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The Hope for Healing website is a tool for Floridians to access help for mental health and substance abuse. The site is an aggregator of federal, state, local, private sector, faith-based and non-profit resources. The Hope for Healing initiative has focused not only on helping Floridians find resources in challenging times through state and local partnerships that use evidence-based best practices, but on addressing the stigma that is all too often associated with seeking help.

Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity utilizes ‘Care Navigators’ to guide Floridians on an individualized path to prosperity by focusing on community collaboration between the private sector, faith-based community, nonprofits and government entities to break down traditional community silos, in an effort to maximize resources and uncover opportunities. ‘Care Navigators’ can help individuals identify their unique and immediate barriers to prosperity, develop long term-goals, and map out a strategic plan including finding support for those contending with substance use disorders.

Statewide

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces New Opioid Recovery Program in Florida

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. – Today, 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. The network of addiction care – Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) – is the first of its kind in the nation, coordinated through the Department of Health, Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration. Governor DeSantis also announced the appointment of Dr. Courtney Phillips as the first Statewide Director of Opioid Recovery. For more information, click here.

“Biden’s border crisis has caused a massive infusion of drugs coming into our state,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This year we increased the penalties for individuals trafficking drugs in our state, and now we are giving Floridians the tools they need to break the substance abuse cycle. Substance abuse can affect any family at any time, so from education to law enforcement to treatment we are going to make sure that Floridians can take advantage of this new addiction recovery model.”

“It is so vital for individuals contending with a substance use disorder to have access to the right array of services that will work for their individual needs,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. “When agencies, stakeholders, and partners alike come together to bolster our state’s system of care, we can ensure that Floridians have access to comprehensive services when they need it most. Today’s announcement of the implementation of the CORE Network model throughout the state is yet another example of how the DeSantis administration is leveraging our state’s resources to help families move forward with dignity on their journey of recovery.”

“Addiction is heartbreaking for all involved, and we ultimately want to help people address the stress traumas that led them to addiction,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “One day the standard of care will address the trauma and the stress, but until then we have the evidence-based practices that exist in place. This program is an applied, intensive application to managing addiction through powerful, effective practice that connects people to what they need to get out of the horrific cycle of addiction.”

“Substance use disorder is a chronic, life-threatening, and relapsing disease that needs to be treated like all other chronic diseases with medical and subspecialty expertise,” said Florida Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth Scheppke. “Launching CORE will create a sustained system of care to manage the complex medical needs of these patients and bring lasting recovery and good health.”

“I understand the struggle on a more personal level – today I am over 4 years sober,” said Haven House Peer Recovery Coach Justin Perse. “At a young age I was sexually abused and did not know how to deal with this mental burden. My mom never gave up on me, and her prayers paid off. I was put in touch with a wonderful couple who let me into their home, and then I was in a faith based program to become the best version of myself. I want to lead people and guide them through the pitfalls of alcohol and addiction, it’s only by His grace that I am here today.”

CORE Network launches in phased approach.

As the Statewide Director of Opioid Recovery, Dr. Courtney Phillips will provide support for the behavioral health system. Dr. Phillips will offer clinical consultations for addicts seeking treatment and recovery services. She is an adult psychologist who currently serves as the Director of Behavioral Health for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County.

Statewide Director of Opioid Recovery Dr. Courtney Phillips

“The state of Florida should be proud today to take the lead on systematically tackling the opioid and substance use epidemic with compassion and competent care,” said Statewide Director of Opioid Recovery Dr. Courtney Phillips. “Our state and communities did not choose this epidemic, but today we choose to treat this medical and psychiatric illness like any other, with access, evidence based care, and lifelong comprehensive treatment.”

In 2022, there have already been nearly 2,000 fatal overdoses in Florida. In Brevard County, law enforcement is seizing more illicit drugs than ever before, especially fentanyl. Last year, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, with the Central Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Team, saw a 72% increase in drug overdose fatalities related to fentanyl.

This program was successfully piloted in Palm Beach County for nearly two years and will be expanding in up to twelve counties to break the overdose cycle. Floridians battling with addiction can utilize CORE for stabilization and to receive medical assisted treatment that is specialized to sustain a clean pathway to success. CORE will be expanded in two phases. Phase one counties include Brevard, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Gulf, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, and Volusia counties.

Statewide

Florida Deploys Tools to Address Overdose Crisis

Tallahassee, Fla. — Last week, First Lady Casey DeSantis brought together the Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo and law enforcement to discuss the recent increases in overdoses associated with fentanyl in Gadsden County.

Following that meeting, Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Florida Department of Health (DOH) worked together to deploy public awareness materials regarding the dangers of substance abuse, specifically fentanyl-laced drugs. Responding to overdose requires education and readily available resources at the hands of communities, families, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and health care providers.

Educational materials are being deployed statewide to ensure Floridians are aware of the signs of overdose and how to respond. 

A public health and safety alert was also deployed by DOH on July 8, 2022 to ensure Floridians remain vigilant of the signs of overdose.

Getting Help in Florida with Substance Abuse

“When a person is suffering from a substance use disorder, it can be difficult to know where to turn,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. “Families and individuals can feel lost, but there are many resources available to help in every community across the state. Whether it’s finding a treatment program, recovery support or just someone to talk to, we can help connect individuals to supports that may save a life. By partnering with the First Lady and DOH we are working to ensure that these services are more prominent, available, and accessible than ever before.”

“Substance use disorder significantly impacts the health and lives of individuals suffering from it,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “Increasing awareness of drug abuse and available resources can help save Floridians from devastating and fatal health consequences. Our collaboration with DCF and alongside our communities is an essential part of the state’s continuing efforts to provide assistance and comprehensive resources to save lives together.”

For questions regarding potential overdoses and other drug-related exposures, Florida’s Poison Control Centers are a valuable resource to individuals throughout Florida, including emergency personnel.  Poison Control Centers are staffed by health care professionals that are specifically trained to provide assistance in treating drug overdoses or assessing patients exposed to drugs of abuse. Medical toxicologists are available 24/7 for physician consultations. 

For poisoning questions or emergencies, call 1-800-222-1222. Visit FloridaPoisonControl.org.

HEROS (Helping Emergency Responders Obtain Support) is a DOH program that provides free naloxone to emergency response agencies. Since the inception of the program in 2018, over 455,000 doses have been distributed to emergency response agencies in Florida through HEROS. All first responders in Florida are eligible to request free naloxone through this program.

If you or your organization are interested in obtaining or managing naloxone for the community, please visit I SAVE FL to find available resources through DCF.

Statewide

Florida Public Health and Safety Alert: Fentanyl Overdoses

The Florida Department of Health has issued the following Public Health and Safety Alert.

The state of Florida has seen an exponential increase in overdoses associated with fentanyl. State agencies, including the Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Children and Families, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement are working together to investigate and immediately address this public safety and health issue.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid up to 100 times more potent than morphine. As little as two milligrams, about the size of 5 grains of salt, can be fatal.

Recent overdoses and deaths have occurred following use of illicit drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and counterfeit prescriptions, as a result of these illicit substances containing fentanyl or similar extremely potent compounds. Individuals may not be aware that these illicit substances contain fentanyl and can be fatal.

In 2020, more than 6,150 people died from overdoses involving fentanyl and fentanyl analogs in Florida.[1] 

For 2021, the latest provisional drug overdose death counts also indicate an increase in fatal overdoses caused by synthetic opioids.[2]  

All Floridians are advised to remain vigilant of the signs of fentanyl overdose and current public risk, especially law enforcement, first responders, and health care providers.

What are the signs of an overdose?

An overdose involving fentanyl is similar to overdoses of other opioids, but it can initiate much faster and stronger than a typical opioid overdose. Overdose signs include:

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils.”
  • Falling asleep or losing consciousness.
  • Slow, weak, or not breathing.
  • Choking or gurgling sounds.
  • Limp body.
  • Cold and/or clammy skin.
  • Discolored skin, especially lips and nails.

What to do if you think someone is overdosing?

  1. Call 911 Immediately.
  2. Administer naloxone, if available.
  3. Try to keep the person awake and breathing.
  4. Lay the person on their side to prevent choking.
  5. Stay with the person until emergency assistance arrives.

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids, including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications.[3] There are two forms of naloxone that anyone can use without medical training or authorization, nasal spray and an auto-injector. Naloxone quickly reverses an overdose by blocking the effects of opioids. It can restore normal breathing within 2 to 3 minutes in a person whose breathing has slowed or even stopped due to an opioid overdose.[4] More than one dose of naloxone may be required when more potent opioids like fentanyl are involved.[5]

HEROS (Helping Emergency Responders Obtain Support) is a Florida Department of Health program that provides free naloxone to emergency response agencies. Since the inception of the program in 2018, over 455,000 doses have been distributed to emergency response agencies in Florida through HEROS. All first responders in Florida are eligible to request free naloxone through this program.

If you or your organization are interested in obtaining or managing naloxone for the community, please visit I SAVE FL to find available resources through the Florida Department of Children and Families.

There are two types of fentanyl: Pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl.[6]

What is pharmaceutical fentanyl?

Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed to manage intense pain after surgery and is sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids.[7] Fentanyl may be administered as a shot, a patch placed on the skin or used as a lozenge. In prescription form, it is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®.[8]

What is illicitly manufactured fentanyl?

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is most often associated with recent overdoses, is found in various forms including powder and liquid. This can be sold illegally as a powder dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.[9] Fentanyl may be added to illicit drugs during their production without the drug user’s knowledge.[10] According to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warning in September 2021, illegal drugs are usually made to look like prescription pills, available online, and sold through social media.[11] 

What are the commonly used street names for illicitly manufactured fentanyl?

Apache, China Girl, China Town, China White, Dance Fever, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, Murder 8, and Tango and Cash.[12]

Where is assistance available?

Hope for Healing is a tool for Floridians to access help for mental health and substance abuse. The site is an aggregator of federal, state, local, private sector, faith-based and non-profit resources. The Hope for Healing initiative has focused not only on helping Floridians find resources in challenging times through state and local partnerships that use evidence-based best practices, but on addressing the stigma that is all too often associated with seeking help.

Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity utilizes ‘Care Navigators’ to guide Floridians on an individualized path to prosperity by focusing on community collaboration between the private sector, faith-based community, nonprofits and government entities to break down traditional community silos, in an effort to maximize resources and uncover opportunities. ‘Care Navigators’ can help individuals identify their unique and immediate barriers to prosperity, develop long term-goals, and map out a strategic plan including finding support for those contending with substance use disorders.

__________________________

[1] 2020 Medical Examiners Commission Drug Report.

[2] Florida Department of Health (2022) Bureau of Vital Statistics.

[3] Lifesaving Naloxone from Pharmacies (2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[4] Harm Reduction TO — Naloxone: Overdose Reversal.

[5] Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit (2018). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

[6] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fentanyl Facts.

[7] U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

[8] National Institute on Drug Abuse.

[9] ID. 3

[10] Public Health warns of rise in opioid overdose visits to emergency departments (2021).

[11] DEA Warns of Sharp Increase in Fake Prescription Pills Laced with Fentanyl and Meth (2021).

[12] U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Statewide

First Lady Casey DeSantis Announces Statewide Public Health Advisory Following Press Conference and Agency Roundtable in Gadsden County

QUINCY, Fla. – Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis joined Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Shevaun Harris, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Acting Commissioner Mark Glass, and Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young to discuss the recent increase in overdoses associated with fentanyl.

As a result of today’s discussion, the First Lady, through the Department of Health in coordination with other state agencies, will launch a statewide public messaging advisory to inform the public of the dangers of fentanyl, now the leading cause of death in the Unites States for individuals 18 to 45. The advisory will focus on prevention and recovery resources for overdoses involving synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. Additionally, the state agencies will work together to share available state resources on substance abuse and mental wellbeing to help meet the needs of communities across Florida, including Gadsden County.

“Too many individuals are losing their lives because of illicit drugs and substance abuse,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “Fentanyl overdose is the leading cause of death in the nation for individuals ages 18 to 45. It is primarily being manufactured in China and pouring across our southern border. It is imperative that Floridians know the risks and understand that just two milligrams can be lethal. Stopping drug dealers and helping Floridians overcome the challenges of addiction and preventing overdose deaths is a significant priority for us all.”

“I would like to thank the Governor and the First Lady for their support regarding the Public Health and Safety Crisis Gadsden County is experiencing,” said Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young. “It was amazing to see how quickly the Governor dispatched some of the top officials to assist Gadsden County such as the Surgeon General, the FDLE Commissioner, and the Secretary of DCF.”

“More than 6,150 people died from overdoses involving fentanyl and fentanyl analogs in 2020. While substance use disorder is a chronic disease that requires clinical oversight, the fentanyl crisis requires us to be all hands on deck across communities — and that is exactly what we are doing,” said Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo.

First Lady Casey DeSantis joined by Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young to discuss the recent increase in overdoses associated with fentanyl.

“Our Department is constantly working to reduce the mortality rate associated with opioid misuse and stimulants and increase the number of people who have access to needed treatments,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. “Through intentional collaboration with our state and community partners we are working to bring more resources and support to all communities in need.”

“The safety of Florida’s citizens and visitors is paramount to FDLE, and illicit deadly drugs like fentanyl do not have a place within safe communities,” said FDLE Acting Commissioner Mark Glass. “When FDLE conducts drug investigations, our goal is always to take down the entire organization. We thank Governor DeSantis for his leadership and for signing HB 95, keeping drug dealers in prison longer and ending their drug dealing days.”

To assist in recovery DCF will be deploying more than 200 Narcan kits to treat overdoses and peer-support coordinators to the county. Emergency responders can also obtain free Narcan through the Helping Emergency Responders Obtain Support (HEROS) program through DOH. Under the direction of FDLE, the strike force will continue to target fentanyl recovery in northwest Florida. In the first 3 days of operation, the strike force has recovered almost four grams of fentanyl, enough to kill nearly 2,000 Floridians.

The state will also ensure that individuals found trafficking fentanyl will be held to the fullest extent of the law. Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed HB 95 into law, enhancing penalties for those selling and distributing opioids. The mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking fentanyl was increased from 3 years to 7 years for 4-14 grams, and from 15 to 20 years for 14-28 grams. Earlier this year, SB 544 was signed into law, granting Floridians the ability to go directly to pharmacists to receive Narcan that can be administered during emergencies. Previously, individuals were required to go through law enforcement to get Narcan to treat those experiencing an overdose.

Overdoses involving fentanyl are much faster and stronger than overdoses of other opioids. Fatal overdoses involving fentanyl have nearly doubled since 2018, due to illicit drugs, including marijuana and heroin, containing fentanyl without the user’s knowledge. Floridians struggling with substance use disorders can visit ISaveFL.com to get assistance.