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Lawmakers call for progressive approach to state's heroin problem

In our last post, we spent some time discussing how a recent report from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission revealed that the state continues to have major problems with heroin. Indeed, the report authors found that the number of heroin-related fatalities in the state reached an astounding 447 in 2014, a nearly ninefold increase from just four years ago when authorities saw roughly 50 heroin-related fatalities.

We also discussed how many experts attributed this public health crisis to the recent crackdown on the state's "pill mills," and the unwavering commitment of law enforcement officials to putting arrests and convictions ahead of treatment and rehabilitation.

As discouraging as the findings of the Medical Examiners Commission are, it's nevertheless important to note that they haven't gone unnoticed by state lawmakers in the House and Senate, many of whom have already pledged their support for combating what can only be described as an epidemic.

What makes this news perhaps even more encouraging is that some of the ideas being floated by state lawmakers are not focused on making more arrests, but rather on providing treatment and facilitating prevention.

Indeed, at a recent roundtable in Manatee County, which has been hit especially hard by heroin, lawmakers shared several promising ideas for addressing the heroin problem:

  • A bill calling for the creation of a statewide addiction treatment system designed to provide consistent and comprehensive care.
  • A bill calling for more advanced addiction training for Florida physicians focused on decreasing initial opiate prescriptions and increasing knowledge of alternative pain treatment.
  • A bill akin to the Baker Act calling for the involuntary detainment of drug addicts for several days so that they can receive the proper evaluation and treatment in the wake of an overdose.
  • A bill calling for the restoration of funding for drug education classes in the school system.

While these are just ideas at this juncture, it's nevertheless easy to see how they could really make a considerable difference here in the Sunshine State. Here's hoping this progress continues.

At the Law Offices of Horwitz & Citro, P.A., we are committed to helping clients whose arrest for a drug crime can be attributed to an underlying substance abuse problem secure the help they need. To that end, we will not only fight to protect their freedom, but also their future.