Florida Responds to Opioid Crisis by Declaring Statewide Emergency

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Opioids killed more than 2,500 Florida residents in 2015, leading Governor Rick Scott to declare a statewide public health emergency. Novus Medical Detox Center hails the move as a vital first step in expanding Floridians’ access to treatment.

Last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed an executive order declaring a public health emergency in response to a statewide opioid epidemic, allowing Florida to accept a federal grant worth more than $54 million over the next two years.(1) Novus Medical Detox Center, a leading Florida-based drug treatment facility, applauds the move for its potential to help more Floridians transition into treatment and recovery, but notes that further efforts are needed on a national level to resolve the current U.S. opioid crisis.

Drug overdoses claimed the lives of 3,228 Floridians in 2015, while the overdose death rate increased 22.7% over the previous year.(2) Opioids alone caused 2,538 deaths statewide in 2015, and contributed to an additional 1,358 fatalities.(1) In total, Florida medical examiners documented 3,896 occurrences of prescription opioids, methadone and/or heroin as a primary cause of death, whether alone or in combination, and 3,397 additional occurrences in which opioids were present in the decedent’s system at time of death.(3)

“Florida’s staggering opioid overdose statistics are not an anomaly, but rather a symptom of a larger national epidemic. This problem won’t go away on its own; it requires ongoing interventions at the federal, state and local levels,” asserted Bryn Wesch, CFO of Novus Medical Detox Center. “Governor Scott has taken a critical first step in declaring a state of emergency over the opioid crisis and accepting a federal grant to fund prevention, treatment and recovery services. The next step is to reach out to Floridians struggling with substance use disorders and connect them to appropriate opioid treatment programs.”

According to a 2016 report by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, substance use disorders affect 20.8 million Americans; yet only 1 in 10 receive any kind of specialty treatment.(4) Murthy emphasized that “addiction is not a character flaw,” but a chronic illness that should be treated with the same skill and compassion as other medical conditions. Wesch is hopeful that the cultural shift driven by Murthy and other healthcare officials, together with increased funding, will mark a turning point in the opioid epidemic and help close the current treatment gap.

“State officials should make an effort to inform citizens of the types of support and resources available to them. Individuals with opioid use disorders are more likely to seek help if they know they’ll be facing treatment rather than reprisals or recriminations,” explained Wesch. “For years, Florida has been at the epicenter of the opioid crisis, and has suffered mounting fatalities as a result. By declaring a state of emergency and taking proactive measures to address the current epidemic, our state has the opportunity to establish itself as a leader in opioid treatment and recovery. I can only hope that other states will learn from our example.”

To ensure the best chance of success, Wesch calls for outcome-focused interventions and individually customized treatments. She encourages opioid users to seek out medically supervised detox programs, which are designed to help ease patients through the discomfort of opiate/opioid withdrawal and prepare them for the next stages of treatment, such as rehab or counseling. Finally, Wesch urges state programs to include ongoing support and assistance that promotes lasting, long-term recovery.

For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its medically supervised opiate and opioid treatment programs, visit https://novusdetox.com.

About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation as an inpatient medical detox facility. Licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Novus provides safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs that are based on proven medical protocols and designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The facility is located on 3.25 acres in New Port Richey, Florida, in a tranquil, spa-like setting bordering protected conservation land. Intent on proving that detox doesn’t have to be painful or degrading, Novus set out to transform the industry by bringing humanity into medical detox with individually customized treatment programs and 24/7 access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Today, Novus is renowned as a champion of industry standardization and a staunch advocate of patients fighting to overcome substance use disorders. Frequently recognized for its contributions to the industry and local community, Novus has become a regular source to media publications such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and has ranked in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50, the Florida Business Journal’s Top 500 and the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more information on Novus’ medically supervised detox programs visit https://novusdetox.com.

1.    Auslen, Michael. “Gov. Scott Declares Public Health Emergency Over Opioid Crisis”; Miami Herald; May 3, 2017. miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article148355444.html

2.    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Drug Overdose Death Data”; CDC website; last updated December 16, 2016. cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html

3.    Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Medical Examiners Commission; Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons by Florida Medical Examiners: 2015 Annual Report; September 2016. http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/cms/MEC/Publications-and-Forms/Documents/Drugs-in-Deceased-Persons/2015-Annual-Drug-Report.aspx

4.    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, Executive Summary; November 2016. addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/executive-summary.pdf

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