Florida has made truly remarkable progress in the fight to combat opioid abuse thanks to everything from the shuttering of so-called pill mills to the implementation of other measures designed to limit access to this highly addictive -- and frequently deadly -- class of prescription drugs.
As we've discussed before, however, these efforts, while laudable, have proven to be something of a double-edged sword in that they drove many people struggling with an addiction to opioids to a cheaper and altogether easier to acquire substitute: heroin.
The problem with heroin is especially acute here in Orange County, where the number of heroin-related fatalities has skyrocketed from 14 in 2011 to 82 in 2014.
While law enforcement recognizes arrests maybe important there are other solutions which must be considered.
Indeed, a task force comprised of law enforcement officials, education experts and public health specialists have been holding regular meetings over the last six months to discuss other ways in which to address what has become a public health crisis.
In fact, the task force released a report this past Monday outlining 37 suggestions for combating Orange County's heroin epidemic. While a complete breakdown of all the suggestions is clearly beyond the scope of a single blog post, some of the more noteworthy proposals include:
- Ensuring police are equipped with naloxone, a medication designed to counteract the effects of a potentially fatal heroin overdose
- Starting a jail program designed to help heroin-addicted inmates while they are in custody and improve their chances of remaining clean upon their release
- Creating more "detox beds" to help treat those grappling with heroin
While it remains to be seen whether these recommendations are logistically and financially possible, it's nevertheless encouraging to see that Orange County is following the leads of other Florida counties in viewing the heroin epidemic as more than just a criminal matter.
If you are struggling with substance abuse and have been arrested for a drug-related crime, it's important to understand that you have options. At the Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A., we can help you explore these options and secure the help you need, while also fighting to protect your freedom.