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Born In Crack Epidemic, Now Focused On Opioids, Broward Organization Gets An Update

David Castillo Dominici

After three decades, the United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse is changing its name to reflect a more holistic view of its mission.

At a 30 th anniversary celebration in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, the group announced it is rebranding itself as the United Way Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention.

“Behavioral health has substance abuse within it and mental health within it—and those are called, ‘co-morbidities’—and sometimes they really come together at the same time,” said Kathleen Cannon, president and CEO of the United Way of Broward.

She explained that addressing mental health issues can be crucial to intervening on addiction issues. “So we really wanted to have the behavioral health word in there and the mental health piece because stigma is still unfortunately alive and well in our community regarding mental health and behavioral health,” she said

The commission was founded in 1988 in response to the crack epidemic. Since then, it’s taken on everything from the banning of Rohypnol—which became a well-known date-rape drug under the nickname “roofie”—to disrupting Chinese production of flakka.

Most recently, the organization has been working to form coalitions from the federal to the local level around addressing and preventing opioid addiction.

“Now with the opioid crisis, everybody in the community is aware of the substance abuse situations that affect the whole community—it’s not a pocket of people,” said Paul Daly, who was given a lifetime achievement award at Thursday’s celebration in honor of his work with the commission from its inception.

Daly has spent the past several decades talking to state lawmakers about drug policy.

“Decades ago they were not as concerned. It was a ‘local situation,’ ’’ he said. “The legislation—they know it now. It exists. And they’re having to take action.” 

More about the commission and its work around the opioid epidemic is available at .  

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Sammy Mack
Public radio. Public health. Public policy.