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DeSantis, first lady target opioid crisis with $205 million in settlement money

casey desantis.pngF
Facebook / Gov. Ron DeSantis
First lady Casey DeSantis speaks at the Shoreline Church in Destin on Friday, Feb. 17, during an appearance with husband Gov. Ron DeSantis, who announced an expansion of opioid treatment and recovery services using more than $205 million from legal settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The funds will help to implement strategies and expand programs for treatment, education and support in Florida as well as establish the DCF Office of Opioid Recovery.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced an expansion of opioid treatment and recovery services, using more than $205 million coming to the state from legal settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors.

During an appearance with first lady Casey DeSantis at the Shoreline Church in Destin, the governor said $10.2 million will go to a new Office of Opioid Recovery at the Department of Children and Families.

The office will include researchers and epidemiologists, who are expected to identify ways to help Floridians in recovery, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Other spending includes $92.5 million to improve access to treatment and recovery services, $39.4 million to develop educational prevention materials and $25.3 million to expand recovery and peer-support services.

“We want to stop illicit drugs from entering our state, hold dealers accountable, educate Floridians on the dangers and provide treatment that breaks the addiction cycle,” 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."

"The key to protecting our children is prevention,” said the first lady, who said part of the education money will toward her "The Facts, Your Future" program, which provides resources to schools to educate students on the consequences substance abuse.

"Students are educated to make decisions that protect their health and see, with their own eyes, the dangerous impact of illicit drug use," Casey DeSantis said of the program, which she introduced in 2019. "In Florida, we are equipping students with the tools they need to overcome challenges and withstand peer pressure to say no to drug use.”

“It’s like ‘Just Say No,’ but it’s really ‘Just say no and here’s why.' "

Natalie Kelly, chief executive officer of the Florida Association of Managing Entities, praised the moves.

“Fentanyl is claiming countless lives in Florida, and I applaud Gov. DeSantis and first lady DeSantis for directing opioid settlement agreement funds to creating an Office of Opioid Recovery,” Kelly said in a prepared statement.

“They’re also allocating these funds to improve access to treatment and recovery, expanding peer support, and more.”

Kelly’s group represents the state’s seven managing entities, which work with more than 300 behavioral health care providers.

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