Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis announced plans for $205.7 million from the Opioid Settlement Agreement on Feb. 17th. The funds will focus on implementing strategies and expanding programs in Florida communities with evidence-based practices, including the CORE Network.
“We want to stop illicit drugs from entering our state, hold dealers accountable, educate Floridians on the dangers and provide treatment that breaks the cycle of addiction,” DeSantis said. “Opioid addiction is plaguing our state and nation, and we are seeing more fatalities related to overdose than ever before with fentanyl being trafficked through the southern border. We will use funds from opioid settlement in the most efficient and effective way possible to end addiction in Florida.”
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Anne Milgram, the administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, testified before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 15th to provide insight into what the country is seeing with the fentanyl crisis.
“The Sinaloa cartel and the whole Jalisco or CJNG cartel; both cartels in Mexico are responsible for the vast majority of fentanyl that is coming into the United States,” Milgram said. “Those two cartels dominate the entire global fentanyl supply chain.”
Milgram explained how precursor chemicals are purchased in China, which are then taken to Mexico and mass produced into powder and fake pills. The cartels then move the fentanyl powder and fentanyl-containing fake pills into the US, according to Milgrim, who said how this is the deadliest drug threat the US has ever faced.
“The urgency to combat substance abuse is only escalating—we are no longer talking about the drugs from ten years ago, and the key to protecting our children is prevention,” Casey DeSantis said in an announcement. “In Florida, we are equipping students with the tools they need to overcome challenges and withstand peer pressure to say no to drug use.”
During the event, Casey DeSantis premiered a video clip from footage that has been created for high school students, known as “The Facts. Your Future.” The video is three minutes long and emphasizes the worst outcomes of drug use, such as teeth falling out; yellowing of skin; major car crashes; being arrested and placed in jail; or even being arrested in a hospital bed. The video suggests that marijuana acts as a gateway drug to harder drug use, which in turn results in severe and sometimes fatal consequences.
Through the funds, $10.2 million will go towards creating the Office of Opioid Recovery, which will be housed within the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and will include researchers and epidemiologists who will identify issues and implement best substance use disorder recovery practices.
About $92.5 million will go towards enhanced access to life-saving treatment. DCF wil pilot an on-demand mobile treatment program with up to five units, and will be deployed to increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Available services include on-site assessments, recovery support services, and medications for substance use.
Back in August, Florida implemented the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) network to create a coordinated system of care for substance use disorder, which is currently active in 12 counties. About $26.8 million in funds would go towards the CORE network to expand it to 17 additional counties.
“Continued legislative and financial support for the expansion of CORE in more counties will ensure integrated, sustainable access to evidence-based emergency and lifelong care for all Floridians struggling with opioid use disorder,” Director of Opioid Recovery Dr. Courtney Phillips said. “This access will continue to save lives, save families, and serve as a solution to this complex epidemic that has ravaged our communities.”
Approximately $39.4 million would go towards campaigns that bring awareness to the effects of substance use and the importance of prevention for middle and high school students. The campaigns would include the video that First Lady Casey showed the committee.
Through $25.3 million, DCF will expand the number of recovery community organizations and certified peer recovery specialists, and $12 million will go towards recovery housing for substance-free living environments with peer support.
Florida will use $11.3 million to develop a framework for partners to securely share and analyze data related to substance use disorder, treatment, health encounters, opioid crime and serious adverse events related to overdose.