opioid crisis

Addiction specialists caution against reading too much into a new study released this week that compares two popular medications for opioid addiction. This much-anticipated research is the largest study so far to directly compare the widely used treatment Suboxone with relative newcomer Vivitrol.

Researchers who compared the two drugs found them equally effective once treatment started. But there are fundamental differences in the way treatment begins, which makes these findings difficult to interpret.

Florida’s medical examiners are warning the death toll from opioids is likely to spike as official data is released.  The most recent reporting doesn’t reflect the impact of some of the deadliest synthetic drugs.

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President Donald Trump has declared a nationwide public health emergency for the opioid crisis.  But the immediate impact in Florida will be minimal.

The same week President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency; officials in Jacksonville are readying a lawsuit against companies who manufacture the drug.

Defeating one opioid overdose, one nasal spray at a time. That’s how the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) is going about the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Sheriff deputies in Broward have been armed with overdose reversal nasal sprays since June, but the Florida Sheriffs Association just gave BSO a big boost by shipping 1,200 units of the medication this week so more deputies are able to carry it on them every day. 

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

President Trump declared a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday, freeing up some resources for treatment. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history," Trump said, adding, "it's just been so long in the making. Addressing it will require all of our effort."

"We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic," he said.

The state senator leading the charge on opioid abuse in Florida is leaning heavily on prescription limits in a new YouTube video.  Her measure caps most prescriptions at a three day supply.

There's about 10 feet between Judge Craig Hannah's courtroom bench and the place where a defendant stands to be arraigned here in Buffalo City Court.

But for 26-year-old Caitlyn Stein, it has been a long, arduous 10 feet.

"This is your first day back! Good to see you!" Judge Hannah says as he greets her.

"Good to see you," Stein says, smiling.

"We've got to do that after picture. We did the before," Judge Hannah reminds her.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is promising to make the opioid crisis a top priority in the coming legislative session.

Driving down the main commercial artery in Muncie, Ind., it seems the job market is doing well. The local unemployment rate stands at 3.8 percent, and there are hiring signs posted outside the McDonald's, a pizza joint and at stop lights.

Around 2007 — the last time the market was so tight — job applicants came streaming through the offices of Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency that screens and places about 120 workers a month, mostly at the local manufacturing firms.

Drug overdoses now kill more Americans than car accidents or gun violence.

Thursday is International Overdose Awareness Day and, to mark the occasion, advocates and officials from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties will gather on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Boca Raton to call for greater federal action to end the United States’s epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths.

Rallies will be held in cities around the country.

Maureen Kielian is a parent advocate from Fort Lauderdale who helped organize the event.

Each year, more than 300 patients with chronic pain take part in a three-week program at the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Their complaints range widely, from specific problems such as intractable lower-back pain to systemic issues such as fibromyalgia. By the time patients enroll, many have tried just about everything to get their chronic pain under control. Half are taking opioids.

A year ago, Maine was one of the first states to set limits on opioid prescriptions. The goal in capping the dose of prescription painkillers a patient could get was to stem the flow of opioids that are fueling a nationwide epidemic of abuse.

Maine's law, considered the toughest in the U.S., is largely viewed as a success. But it has also been controversial — particularly among chronic pain patients who are reluctant to lose the medicine they say helps them function.

This week South Carolina decided to sue the maker OxyContin for deceptive marketing.

Widespread incidents of fraud have given the South Florida addiction treatment industry a black eye. Law enforcement has been cracking down — with strong support from the treatment industry’s legitimate providers.

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Update 3:35 pm August 10: Two days after making a few general remarks about the opioid crisis, President Trump on Thursday called it "a national emergency" and said his administration would be drawing up papers to make it official.

"We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis," Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

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In Prince George's County, Md., every first responder carries naloxone, the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.

"We carry it in our first-in bags," says Bryan Spies, the county's battalion chief in charge of emergency services. "So whenever we arrive at a patient's side, it's in the bag, along with things like glucose, aspirin and oxygen."

Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge is wrapping up his tenure as president of the National Association of Counties with a plea for more federal help to fight the opioid crisis.

States across the country are struggling to hold off a rising tide of opioid abuse and Florida is no exception.  But the return of harsh penalties for possession—a hallmark of the war on drugs—is frustrating a broad spectrum of advocates and officials.

Parts of the stalled Senate health care bill could hurt those addicted to opioids, according to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. The Tampa Democrat says if the bill passes, it will limit access to substance abuse treatment.


Jacksonville City Council will soon consider funding a six-month pilot program to help treat opioid addiction with nearly $1.5 million city dollars. Councilman Bill Gulliford is introducing the bill Tuesday.


The Food and Drug Administration requested Thursday that the drugmaker Endo Pharmaceuticals stop selling Opana ER — its extended-release version of Opana.

The FDA says the move marks the first time the agency has taken steps to remove an opioid from the market because of "public health consequences of abuse."

State health officials stopped in Jacksonville Wednesday to hear about how opioid abuse is affecting Northeast Florida. It was their fourth stop on a state tour, set up by Governor Rick Scott.  

Gov. Rick Scott has declared a public health emergency across Florida for the opioid epidemic.

South Floridians poured into a community room at the West Palm Beach Police Department Monday for the first of four public workshops around the state on combating the opioid crisis.

The tour was announced in early April by Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinley summed up the feeling in the room.

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

More money is needed to stop overdose deaths, Manatee County leaders told state officials during an opioid workshop Tuesday.

The man had just risen from the dead.

He’s in his mid-20’s. Sitting on a couch in a house in Delray Beach. Pale as a ghost, sweaty, wide-eyed, disoriented.  Like he just woke up from a nightmare.

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