Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

FAU Partners With DEA To Raise Awareness About South Florida's Opioid Crisis

Narcan is administered as a nasal spray to help people survive opioid overdoses.
Peter Haden
Narcan is administered as a nasal spray to help people survive opioid overdoses.

According to official records,  more than 1,000 people in South Florida overdosed last year on opioids including heroin and carfentanil -- a drug so potent it’s used as an elephant tranquilizer.

The growing threat of the opioids epidemic is mobilizing law enforcement and community leaders to form new partnerships and collaborate in events such as last week's discussion hosted by Florida Atlantic University (FAU). 

"It oftentimes starts in people’s medicine cabinets," said Jonathon White, a special agent based in Miami for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). "People can find themselves addicted to an opioid and it’s a very short path to heroin. And other people, often times young people, think it’s a harmless, fun thing to try."

That was the message of a 50-minute documentary video shown at the discussion led by White and Dr. Justin Miller, a DEA field intelligence manager. Called "Chasing the Dragon," it presented the stories of people recovering from opioid addiction. Some of the men and women profiled became addicted after being treated for pain with medications like fentanyl. Others began taking opioids for the potent highs the drugs can produce. There was  a common message: Avoid highly addictive opiates at all costs.

FAU Police Chief Sean Brammer attended the panel and saidthat  last month his 42 officers received opioid response training. They’ll be carrying Narcan, a drug that can keep overdoses from becoming deadly.

"We haven’t had any opiate overdoses on campus just yet," Brammer said. "However, what we are trying to do is to be proactive and not be reactive and have to deal with it on the backside."

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Kate Stein can't quite explain what attracts her to South Florida. It's more than just the warm weather (although this Wisconsin native and Northwestern University graduate definitely appreciates the South Florida sunshine). It has a lot to do with being able to travel from the Everglades to Little Havana to Brickell without turning off 8th Street. It's also related to Stein's fantastic coworkers, whom she first got to know during a winter 2016 internship.Officially, Stein is WLRN's environment, data and transportation journalist. Privately, she uses her job as an excuse to rove around South Florida searching for stories à la Carl Hiaasen and Edna Buchanan. Regardless, Stein speaks Spanish and is always thrilled to run, explore and read.