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Reporter Tracks Opioid Crisis & South Florida's 'Recovery Industry' Corruption

Delray Beach Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Ed Beardsley (center) and firefighter-paramedics treat a woman overdosing on heroin in Delray Beach on May 19,2017. Neighbors say a car pulled up to a stop sign, pushed the woman out and drove away.
Photo: Peter Haden, WLRN
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

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.

Haden joins Gulf Coast Live sharing stories from his reporting on South Florida's opioid epidemic, which claimed over 1,000 lives in 2015 alone. His reporting ranges from town halls demanding solutions, to back-to-back overdose calls in Delray Beach from "tourists" seeking treatment, to charges related to fraud, money laundering, and more within the South Florida recovery industry.

He'll also share a recent story covering  the complicated and controversial ways drug dealers can be charged with murder after an overdose occurs.

Also joining the program is Rev. Vann Ellison, president and CEO of St. Matthew's House, sharing his insights from more than 30 years working in opioid and addiction treatment in Southwest Florida.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.