Florida addiction treatment providers and law enforcement leaders today came together to urge the Florida House to restore funding for extended-release injectable Naltrexone programs. The House budget eliminates funding for 52 community providers under the State Courts system, 45 programs under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) program and 10 programs run by sheriffs and law enforcement across the state.
“Each patient’s journey to recovery is different and having access to proven medications is crucial to their success,” said Michael Harris, Park Place Behavioral Health Clinical Director of Residential and Substance Abuse Programs. “We are humbly asking lawmakers to not limit access to the tools we need to help these individuals regain control of their lives.”
According to an FDLE medical examiner’s report, there were 5,725 opioid related deaths in Florida in 2016—a 35 percent increase over the previous year. The Senate has expressed their commitment to fighting addiction in Florida by maintaining the base recurring funding of $7 million for extended release Naltrexone programs in the Office of State Courts Administrator (OSCA), the DCF and Department of Corrections (DOC) budgets. The House budget eliminates all funding for this medication commonly used to treat substance use disorders. Treatment providers and law enforcement experts share concerns that discontinuing funding will eliminate the progress that has been made to date.
“I am concerned about what these cuts will do to the 10-existing drug treatment jail programs and to the additional programs that are in development,” said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford. “In Bay County, we have had to think outside the box and look for innovative ways to address the opioid epidemic in our community. The extended release injectable Naltrexone program is one of those innovative treatments that has shown positive outcomes.”
One of the key tools in fighting the opioid epidemic is medication assisted treatment. Extended release Naltrexone is one of three nationally recommended medications for this purpose. Extended release Naltrexone is a once-monthly injectable non-addictive, non-narcotic medication proven to help prevent those suffering from substance use disorders from relapsing. The medication works by blocking receptors in the brain, which prevent opioids from creating a high and helps reduce cravings. This gives individuals with substance use disorders a chance at recovery.
With less than two weeks left until the end of the 2018 Legislative Session, experts stress that now is the time for the House to address this very important issue and prioritize funding for a treatment program that has proven results.
“Keeping effective drug treatment options and programs intact are necessary to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic. Now is not the time to eliminate funding for a program that has shown results year after year,” said Dr. Mark Stavros M.D., Medical Director of Gulf Coast Addiction Medicine and the Emergency Department at West Florida Hospital.
Data collected by the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association regarding extended release Naltrexone programs shows that programs administered by DCF saw a 77% success rate and programs administered by the Courts saw a 76.5% success rate.
“This is a serious problem that has touched almost every county in Florida, and scores of families throughout our state,” said Chief Cornita Riley, Orange County Corrections Department. “In my county, the statistics are both heartbreaking and alarming. In the first six weeks of 2018, overdoses have increased by 61%, and 22 more lives have been claimed by this epidemic.”
The providers and law enforcement leaders are hopeful the funding will be addressed during budget negotiations between the Florida House and Senate.
For data and more information about drug treatment programs visit fadaa.org.