opioid abuse

Bay County Adds First Ever Drug Recognition Expert

Aug 11, 2017

With medical marijuana legalization coming to fruition in Florida, driving under the influence may become something reaching beyond the realms of alcohol. To counter-act this measure, Bay County Sherriff’s Office has hired its first Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE. 

The city of Jacksonville is considering suing prescription drug makers for deceptive marketing.

One city councilman believes pharmaceutical companies are complicit in Northeast Florida’s opioid addiction epidemic.


An opioid overdose is an alarmingly frequent call for paramedics and firefighters in South Florida. But according to WLRN reporter Peter Haden, many of those victims came from outside the state to seek treatment for their addiction. With relapses topping 80 percent, many who arrive seeking help today can become tomorrow's overdose victim.

The state of Ohio has sued five major drug manufacturers for their role in the opioid epidemic. In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, state Attorney General Mike DeWine alleges these five companies "helped unleash a health care crisis that has had far-reaching financial, social, and deadly consequences in the State of Ohio."

Named in the suit are:

  • Purdue Pharma
  • Endo Health Solutions
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon
  • Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (Facebook)

Law enforcement officials are warning of a deadly new drug hitting South Florida streets called “grey death.”

A bill aimed at criminalizing the deadly drug fentanyl is heading to the Senate floor. The measure comes as the Legislature is struggling to respond to the state’s opioid crisis. But the plan has lawmakers questioning whether they should combat addiction with punishment or treatment.

The trouble started for Lisa when she took a blood pressure pill and one to control seizures, along with methadone, a drug used to help wean patients off heroin.

"I inadvertently did the methadone cocktail and I went to sleep for like 48 hours," Lisa says, rolling her eyes and coughing out a laugh. "It kicked my butt. It really kicked my butt."

Councilman Bill Gulliford wants to convene a community task force to combat the opioid epidemic in Jacksonville.

He made the announcement at a town hall Thursday night, where he said heroin and other opioid overdoes kill more than three times as many people as guns do in the city.

Aetna, one of the nation's largest insurance companies, says that starting in March it will remove what's been a key barrier for patients seeking medication to treat their opioid addiction. The change will apply to all its private insurance plans, an Aetna spokeswoman confirmed. Aetna is the third major health insurer to announce such a switch in recent months.

New information on drug overdose deaths from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows staggering increases in deaths linked to opioid abuse in Florida.

In an annual report released late last year, FDLE found deaths from drugs like heroin claimed 779 lives in Florida in 2015; an increase in more than 75 percent from the prior year.

More powerful opioids like fentanyl saw similar increases: over 900 deaths were linked to the super-potent painkiller, an increase of nearly 70 percent.

China is the source of deadly fentanyl that’s fueling an opioid overdose epidemic in South Florida and elsewhere in the United States.

That’s the finding of the new report released Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission entitled Fentanyl: China’s Deadly Export to the United States.

A public health crisis spinning out of control.

That’s how Dr. Valarie Rao, medical examiner for Florida’s 4th District, describes North Florida's opioid epidemic. The district encompasses Duval, Clay, Nassau, Hamilton and Columbia Counties.

Lawmakers are once again trying to combat Florida’s escalating opioid crisis. Across the country, patients with chronic pain are turning to heroin, or deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl. A scarcity of prescription drugs, after lawmakers cracked down and pill mills, combined with cheap street drugs, is a proving deadly combination.

Solutions Sought To Stem Opioid Overdoses

Jan 26, 2017
Photo: Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

More than a dozen state lawmakers joined law-enforcement officers and health experts Wednesday at the Capitol to discuss a growing crisis of people dying from opioid overdoses.

As the addiction recovery industry boomed in South Florida over the past decade, so did the number of recovery residences - also known as sober homes.

The newest chairman of the committee that looks at children and elder affair issues is outlining some of his top priorities for the 2017 legislative session.

America's attitude toward pain has shifted radically over the past century. Psychiatrist Anna Lembke says that 100 years ago, the medical community thought that pain made patients stronger.

"Doctors believed that pain was salutary," she tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "meaning that it had some physiologic benefit to the individual, and certainly some spiritual benefit."

The epidemic of opioid overdoses continues to grip Delray Beach. The city saw 75 heroin overdoses last month, with 4 of them fatal.

That’s a slight decrease from October, which brought an all-time high of 88 heroin overdoses resulting in 11 fatalities.

Delray Beach emergency personnel attribute the spike in overdoses to synthetic opioids like fentanyl being added to heroin sold on the street.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is more than 50 times more potent than heroin.

The man leading the fight against unscrupulous sober homes has a message for state legislators.

“When the appropriations process comes up, please keep us in mind,” said Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg at a meeting with the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation in Boca Raton Tuesday.

Aronberg leads the county’s Sober Home Task Force - created in July 2016 with a $275,000 appropriation from the state legislature.

Inpatient treatment programs for heroin and opioid dependence can be so difficult to get into in some parts of the country that drug users who want to quit are voluntarily asking judges to lock them up — just to guarantee they'll get help.

In the first half of last year alone, 174 died of opioid overdoses in Duval, Nassau and Clay counties.

Stigma continues to deter some addicts from seeking help, but a new Northeast Florida partnership is seeking to change that.


According to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, medical marijuana laws could be tied to reduced opioid use.

Jake Harper/Side Effects Public Media

Twice a day, Angela and Nate Turner of Greenwood, Ind., put tiny strips that look like tinted tape under their tongues.

Health care claims for people with opioid dependence diagnoses rose more than 3,000 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to an analysis of insurance records.

The findings illustrate that the opioid problem is "in the general mainstream," says Robin Gelburd, president of Fair Health, a nonprofit that analyzes health care costs and conducted the study.

Zac Talbott sees the irony of running an opioid treatment program from a former doctor's office.

"The funny thing is, a lot of patients are like, 'This is where I first started getting prescribed pain pills,' " Talbott says.

Now, the Tennessee native says those same patients are coming to his clinic in Chatsworth, Ga., a small city about a half-hour south of the Tennessee border, to fight their addiction to those very pills.

Amid a raging opioid epidemic, many doctors and families in the U.S. have been pleading for better treatment alternatives. One option now under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration is a system of implanted rods that offer controlled release of buprenorphine — a drug already used in other forms to treat opioid addiction.

Because it's implanted in the skin, this version of the drug can't easily be sold on the illegal market, proponents say — a key treatment advantage. The FDA is expected to decide whether to approve the device — called Probuphine — within a week.

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

University of Washington Health

A prescription drug that counters the effects of an opioid overdose will soon be available over the counter.

Carolyn Rossi has been a registered nurse for 27 years, and she's been fiercely protective of infants in her intensive care unit — babies born too soon, babies born with physical and cognitive abnormalities and, increasingly, babies born dependent on opioids.

Lawmakers are pushing a measure encouraging the use of abuse-resistant opioids.