Governor Rick Scott today directed the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Department of Health (DOH) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to meet with communities to identify additional strategies to fight the rising opioid usage cases in Florida. The Attorney General’s Office will also be participating in these workshops. At the Governor’s direction, DCF Secretary Mike Carroll, Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip and FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen will travel to counties facing an increase in opioid-related deaths and host community workshops with local leaders, law enforcement, health directors, treatment providers and community members.
Governor Scott said, “Growing up, substance abuse was something that impacted my own family and I know firsthand what a heartbreaking burden this can be on families who have to deal with this. Behind every case of drug use is a family hoping and praying for a solution. One death caused by substance abuse is one too many, and today I have directed the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to travel the state and hear directly from communities on what resources they need to help with this growing problem. Opioid abuse is happening across our nation and it is crucial that we hear what our local communities are doing to fight the rising use of opioids and how we as the state can continue to help.
“Drug abuse has the potential to affect entire families, including innocent children. I have directed Secretary Carroll to specifically focus on children whose caregivers are struggling with addiction and what resources counties need in order to protect these kids. We are committed to doing everything we can to keep Florida safe, and I look forward to continuing to work with our federal, state and local partners to ensure our communities have the resources they need in their fight against opioid use.”
Community workshops will provide important opportunities for the state to directly hear the specific needs of affected communities as well as provide information on existing resources, best practices, and grant opportunities. Workshops will be hosted in Palm Beach, Manatee, Duval and Orange County. More information on dates and locations will be announced soon.
Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “I have dedicated my career to fighting drug abuse—first as a state prosecutor and now as your attorney general. As our fight against this national opioid epidemic continues, we know we cannot just arrest our way out of this problem. That is why we have worked to decrease the price of life-saving medicine to treat addicts. We will continue to vigorously prosecute drug traffickers and explore options to help users recover, as we travel the state to identify additional strategies to address the opioid crisis and save lives.”
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said, “Stopping the introduction, sale and use of illegal opioids remains a primary focus of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. I look forward to participating in the community meetings to ensure we are working with all stakeholders to address this growing problem.”
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “Substance abuse can have a catastrophic impact on individuals and their families if left untreated. The rising toll of opioid abuse in the state is spreading into communities across Florida and affecting all generations. We must come together to ensure that communities have the tools they need to fight and prevent these addictions.”
State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. Celeste Philip said, “Substance abuse and addiction are complex and often tragic health conditions that negatively impact children, families and communities at large. We know that adverse childhood experiences can have effects on lifelong health outcomes. There is an emerging body of evidence of the benefit of early interventions to prevent lifelong negative impacts to mental health, like substance abuse. As a department, we are beginning to incorporate this approach to our work in communities and we stand ready to support DCF and to be part of the solution.”