(The Center Square) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to spend the state’s $205.7 million opioid settlement on drug treatment and recovery programs.
The second-term Republican governor held a news conference in Destin Friday to discuss the opioid crisis, which has not only become a problem in the Sunshine State, but in many other states across America.
Fentanyl is being smuggled daily across the southern border and the result has been easy to find street drugs that are highly addictive and very deadly.
“This is a serious crisis that’s affecting not just the state of Florida, but really every corner of the United States.” DeSantis said. “In 2021, more 107,000 Americans died of a drug overdose and over 75% of those were related to opioids.”
DeSantis noted that more people are dying in America from drug overdoses than car crashes every year.
“Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has done slim to no work to actually try and prevent opioids from entering our communities in the first place.” DeSantis said, adding that fentanyl, which is manufactured in China, makes its way across the border via Mexican cartels.
DeSantis pointed out that only a small amount of fentanyl can kill a person and smuggling has become so bad there is now enough fentanyl in the United States to kill every last person.
One issue is the risk it poses to young teenagers, and DeSantis noted that those taking drugs are at risk of consuming fentanyl without knowing.
DeSantis unveiled an initiative to help those with opioid addictions seek help called the CORE Network, which is an addict response and treatment program, first tried in Palm Beach County.
“It’s an initiative designed to establish a coordinated system of care for those seeking treatment for opioid use disorder. We’re working with County healthcare workers, as well as emergency medical services to fill gaps in services and make sure that people have access to care 24/7.” DeSantis said.
According to DeSantis, the goal of the program is to identify the problem and then help people get to where they need to be so they can live productive lives.
DeSantis announced that some of the lawsuits that the state has been involved with against pharmaceutical companies, who have saturated the population with opioids, have been ordered to pay out the state billions of dollars in settlements.
“These were companies that knew that these were very highly addictive medications, and they put that out there without really doing what they needed to do to protect consumers, so a lot of people got hooked on them and it really did a lot of damage to society and many lives.” DeSantis said.
From those settlements, $205 million will be put toward the treatment and recovery of opioid addicts. The CORE Network will be expanded throughout the state and will receive $26.8 million. Around $10.2 million will be allocated to establish an Office of Opioid Recovery, which is a requirement of the settlement terms.
Around $39.4 million will go towards prevention, $92.5 million will go towards treatment, $25.3 million for recovery and peer support and $11.3 million for data integration. Additionally, $135.4 million is going directly to local communities.