Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis spoke about the recent rise in fentanyl-related overdoses with the Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Shevaun Harris, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Acting Commissioner Mark Glass, and Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young.
Following today’s discussion, the First Lady will launch a statewide public messaging advisory through the Department of Health in collaboration with other state agencies to warn the public about the dangers of fentanyl, which is currently the main cause of death in the United States for people between the ages of 18 and 45. The advice will concentrate on prevention and recovery tools for fentanyl and other synthetic drug overdoses.
Additionally, to assist in meeting the needs of communities throughout Florida, including Gadsden County, the state agencies will collaborate to share available state resources on substance addiction and mental health.
“Too many individuals are losing their lives because of illicit drugs and substance abuse,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “Fentanyl overdose is the leading cause of death in the nation for individuals ages 18 to 45. It is primarily being manufactured in China and pouring across our southern border. It is imperative that Floridians know the risks and understand that just two milligrams can be lethal. Stopping drug dealers and helping Floridians overcome the challenges of addiction and preventing overdose deaths is a significant priority for us all.”
“I would like to thank the Governor and the First Lady for their support regarding the Public Health and Safety Crisis Gadsden County is experiencing,” said Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young. “It was amazing to see how quickly the Governor dispatched some of the top officials to assist Gadsden County such as the Surgeon General, the FDLE Commissioner, and the Secretary of DCF.”
“More than 6,150 people died from overdoses involving fentanyl and fentanyl analogs in 2020. While substance use disorder is a chronic disease that requires clinical oversight, the fentanyl crisis requires us to be all hands on deck across communities — and that is exactly what we are doing,” said Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo.
“Our Department is constantly working to reduce the mortality rate associated with opioid misuse and stimulants and increase the number of people who have access to needed treatments,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. “Through intentional collaboration with our state and community partners we are working to bring more resources and support to all communities in need.”
“The safety of Florida’s citizens and visitors is paramount to FDLE, and illicit deadly drugs like fentanyl do not have a place within safe communities,” said FDLE Acting Commissioner Mark Glass. “When FDLE conducts drug investigations, our goal is always to take down the entire organization. We thank Governor DeSantis for his leadership and for signing HB 95, keeping drug dealers in prison longer and ending their drug dealing days.”
To address overdoses, DCF will send more than 200 Narcan kits and peer-support coordinators to the county. Through the DOH’s Helping Emergency Responders Obtain Support (HEROS) programme, emergency personnel can also get free Narcan. The strike group will continue to focus on fentanyl recovery in northwest Florida under the guidance of FDLE. The strike group has recovered over four grammes of fentanyl in its first three days of operation, which is nearly enough to kill 2,000 Floridians.
The government will also make sure that anyone caught trafficking fentanyl will face the harshest penalties possible. Recently, Governor Ron DeSantis approved HB 95, strengthening the punishments for people who sell and distribute opioids.
For amounts between 4 and 14 grammes and between 14 and 28 grammes, the required minimum punishment for fentanyl trafficking was raised from 3 to 7 years and 15 to 20 years, respectively. Since SB 544 was passed into law earlier this year, Floridians have been able to walk straight to their local pharmacies to get emergency-useable Narcan. It used to be necessary for people to go via law enforcement to obtain Narcan to treat overdose victims.
Fentanyl overdoses happen significantly more quickly and violently than overdoses from other opioids. Fentanyl-related fatal overdoses have almost doubled since 2018 as a result of illegal substances like heroin and marijuana that users are unaware are sneaking fentanyl into. To receive help, Floridians with substance use disorders can go to www.isavefl.com