The Opioid Crisis
Heart of Florida United Way has teamed up with the Orange County Heroin Task Force to tackle the opioid crisis head on. There has been a 35% increase in opioid-related deaths in Florida. Even more astounding, fentanyl deaths has seen a spike of 97%.
Each year, the opioid crisis continues to worsen as drug-related deaths continue to rise at an alarming rate. That’s why we have launched the Opioid Texting Program. Text “Opioid” to 898-211 to connect with crucial information and resources.
Opioid Text Program
Heart of Florida United Way’s 2-1-1 Information and Assistance Helpline is taking a leading role in addressing the epidemic because of their expertise in community resources and providing help to those who need it most. The Opioid Texting Program allows someone to anonymously reach out to get information and resources.
By texting “opioid” to 898-211, you can choose from the following options:
- General information on opioid use
- Resources for a person concerned about someone using opioids
- Resources for someone addicted to opioids
- Option for professionals and service providers
Additionally, you can dial 2-1-1 at any time to speak directly with a 2-1-1 Specialist.
Beyond sending vital information, the texting program also provides clients with 130 days of on-going support and affirmations as they make strides towards recovery. According to the 2017 American Journal of Preventive Medicine, text message interventions are capable of producing positive change in preventive health behaviors. Preliminary evidence indicates that these effects can be maintained after the intervention stops.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are narcotics that are typically prescribed as painkillers. They can be used to treat chronic pain, to deal with post-surgery pain and other similar uses. However, they can become highly addictive as the body builds a tolerance to the medication. When the brain becomes less responsive to them due to drug tolerance, the user becomes more susceptible to pain. This can then lead to physical dependence, addiction and, potentially, overdose.
Who Is Affected?
The epidemic facing our community and country effects men and women of all ages and income levels. What started as a prescribed medication to deal with pain can lead to an addiction that could ruin—or even end—someone’s life. It is destroying families and we are ready to do what we can to put an end to it.
Most Commonly Prescribed Painkillers
In 2016, one in 65 deaths in the United States involved opioids — and among younger adults, that number skyrocketed to one in five, according to a new study.
Data has shown for years that deaths involving both prescribed and illicit opioids are rising sharply. They’ve nearly doubled since 2009, and have infiltrated all genders, demographics and geographic areas, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. The new study, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, puts some of those numbers into new perspective.
The paper used data from the CDC’s WONDER database, which tracks mortality data and causes of death in the U.S. Researchers first isolated all opioid-related deaths recorded between 2001 and 2016 (335,123 in all), then broke those down by age groups and years.
In 2016, opioids were involved in 28,496 deaths, the study says. More than 8,400 of these occurred among adults between the ages of 25 and 34, a number high enough to mean that 20% of all deaths in this age group in 2016 involved opioids.
Among those between the ages of 15 and 24, the report adds, the nearly 3,000 opioid-related deaths recorded in 2016 accounted for 12.4% of deaths in this demographic.
While opioid-related deaths were common among older age groups as well — there were about 6,700 among adults ages 35 and 44, more than 5,600 among adults 45 to 54, more than 3,800 among adults 55 to 64 and around 800 among adults older than 65 — they accounted for a smaller proportion of deaths in these populations.
Among the eldest two age groups, however, the percentage of deaths attributable to opioids remained relatively low, but jumped by 745% and 635%, respectively.
Still, the study says opioids were involved in 1.5% of all deaths in 2016, regardless of age group. That means, the researchers write, that the drugs were responsible for more life years lost than high blood pressure, HIV/AIDs and pneumonia, and a tenth of those lost to cancer.
“Premature death from opioid-related causes imposes an enormous and growing public health burden across the United States,” the researchers write. “These trends highlight a need for tailored programs and policies.
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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Spectrum 13 News is taking a unique look at how the opioid crisis and heroin epidemic are affecting the children and families of addicts.
- Documentary, Town Hall discuss collateral damage
- Participants stressed need for communities to work together
- Programming will re-air May 26, 28
“The Opioid Crisis: Raising Heroin’s Children” is an original documentary focusing on the devastating impact heroin is having on Florida’s young people. It features three people affected by addiction: a user, a mother of an addict and a child of an addict.
One of the documentary’s subjects, Jessica Denichilo, first started using narcotics prescribed by her doctor. It eventually led her to a point where she was injecting heroin and other opiates into her veins.
Eventually, her addiction led to the loss of her children to foster care.
“I feel that addicts as a whole get a bad rap,” Jessica told us as she prepared to watch the documentary with a group of people in Bradenton. “People think that we’re lost causes of society, and in many cases that’s not true. We’re good people, we just went down a wrong path.”
The documentary shares harrowing stories of overdoses, jail time, broken families and in some cases, recovery and redemption.
After the documentary aired, a group of doctors, counselors, government leaders and law enforcement officers took part in a Town Hall-style discussion to continue the conversation.
Panelists said it’s important for communities to work together to find solutions.
“I think we’ve been doing a lot of talking for a couple years,” said Gerrie Stanhope, President of Silent No Longer. “We need more action. We need treatment centers in Manatee County. We need funding for people that don’t have insurance or money to go into treatment centers. There’s a lot of work to do.”
As for Denochilo, she said she’s close to regaining custody of her children. She hopes participating in the documentary will help others.on. We need treatment centers in Manatee County. We need funding for people that don’t have insurance or money to go into treatment centers. There’s a lot of work to do.”
“I mean, if this helps one addict, gives one person the opportunity to live, then it was all worth it,” she said.
The documentary and town hall will re-air Saturday and Monday nights at 7 p.m.
It is National Prevention Week 2018-
This is an annual health observance dedicated to increasing the prevention of substance use and promotion of mental health.
Today’s topic is Underage Drinking and Alcohol Misuse Prevention
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House’s version of legislation to combat the state’s opioid epidemic is headed to the floor.
The bill, which passed the Health & Human Services Committee on Wednesday, would impose new restrictions on prescriptions. Most initial prescriptions would have a limit of three days but doctors can prescribe up to seven days for acute pain exceptions.
The proposal doesn’t cover cases of chronic pain or cancer. It would also require all health care professionals to participate in a statewide database that monitors prescriptions.
During the committee meeting, Rep. Jim Boyd told lawmakers the measure has undergone some changes after consultation with the Senate and Gov. Rick Scott’s office.
A Senate version has passed all its committees but Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto said the bill remains a work in progress.
Central Florida has had its share of problems with opioid use.
On the streets of Osceola County, the grip of opioid addiction is strong.
Osceola County was the first in the state to move forward with a lawsuit against 21 pharmaceutical companies.
In the lawsuit, the county claims the opioid crisis is costing taxpayers money.
In Ocala, police said they are fighting the growing heroin and opioid epidemic by creating an amnesty program that could help save lives. There have been 22 overdoses and seven deaths since the year began, police said.
Law enforcement agencies have used the drug Narcan to save lives.
Narcan reverses an overdose of opioid, including heroin and pain medications such as morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
SANFORD – The Sanford Police Department ended Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October with a candlelight vigil.
The event, coordinated by Officer Kate Walsh, was attended by members of the Sanford Police Department, Seminole County Sherriff’s Office, State Attorney’s Office, Safe House and citizens from local and neighboring communities.
During the vigil, guest speaker Dohmeher described the nearly fatal attack from her ex-boyfriend, who stabbed her 32 times because she was breaking up with him.
“He said he just wanted a hug,” she recalled. “It’s all he wanted … a final goodbye. All he wanted was closure and I basically, you know, walked outside to my murder.”
Dohmeher’s story has been featured on “Good Morning America,” “48 Hours,” and in the “National Enquirer.”
Please report domestic violence to your local law enforcement agency or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
SANFORD – You wouldn’t drop off an 11-year-old child at a shopping mall alone and on their own, would you?
That’s essentially what parents are doing when they let their young children surf the Internet unsupervised in their homes, said Special Agent Frank Heinzmann, of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Cyber and High Tech Crimes Squad.
Heinzmann’s specialty is Internet crimes against children and he gave an informative and important presentation on the subject during the August meeting of the Seminole Prevention Coalition.
“The Internet is probably the greatest double-edge sword ever,” Heinzmann remarked. The global system of computer networks offers a vast array of useful information. But it also contains many dangers, such as child sex predators, who find and groom their victims online.
“These guys are everywhere,” said Heinzmann, who added that last year there were about 1,500 computers advertising child pornography in Orange County alone.
The FDLE squad works with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC), (link: www.missingkids.com) and is a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (link: www.icactaskforce.org), a network of 61 coordinated Task Forces representing more than 3,000 Federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.
“No one agency can take this on by itself,” Heinzmann said. “Unfortunately, we are very busy.”
According to NCMEC, 1 in 7 children who go online will get solicited by a child sex predator, 1 in 3 will be exposed to unwanted sexual material, and 1 in 25 will get a request from a child sex predator to meet in person.
Also, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized before
they reach the age of 18. That victimization can range from sexually explicit pictures to sexual battery, and only 1 in 3 victims will come forward.
There are 620,000 registered sex offenders in the United States and 100,000 are non-compliant and/or missing, Heinzmann added. Finally, two thirds of sex offenders in prison victimized children.
Child sex offenders use the Internet to network with like-minded offenders, trade child porn and gain access to children, Heinzmann
said. Oftentimes, these predators will hide their true identities in order to make friends with children online.
The danger areas that parents should beware of are:
Again, Heinzmann urges parents to prevent their children from going online unsupervised.
Parents should make sure their children’s computer screens are visible to them. They should also utilize parental control software, such as Net Nanny and WebWatcher for computers, and My Mobile Watchdog for smartphones.
“If something doesn’t look right to you, tell somebody,” Heinzmann added.
If you suspect your child could be the victim of an Internet pedophile, call your local law enforcement agency. You can also visit Cybertipline.com, which will direct you to an agency in your area, or Missingkids.com. To learn how to teach children to be safe on the Internet visit Netsmartz.org, and go to SecureFlorida.org for more tips.
SANFORD – Community members who attended the May meeting of the Seminole Prevention Coalition learned about the latest research, emerging trends and common myths about marijuana.
The presentation by guest speaker Christine Stilwell, Orlando Regional Director of Informed Families/The Florida Family Partnership & Grassroots Regional Director, was particularly important given Florida’s pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana. A constitutional amendment was approved by the state Supreme Court and will appear on the ballot this November.
“Twenty one states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws,” Stilwell noted.
Made illegal in 1937, marijuana is the most abused illicit drug in the nation, she added. It affects every organ in the body, it is linked to mental illness and can produce a psychotic reaction.
The mind-altering THC content in today’s marijuana is 16 percent, up from just 1 percent a few decades ago, Stilwell said.
Marijuana is the top substance for those entering into substance addiction programs, she said. Its abuse rate is higher than that any other drug, including heroin and pain relievers.
Persistent use of marijuana leads to an average loss of 8 IQ points, according to a New Zealand study. Long-term use of the drug by either a mother or father can cause harmful effects for newborns, such as low birth weight.
After alcohol, marijuana-impairment is the second leading cause of car accidents, Stilwell pointed out. Marijuana doubles incidents of car accidents.
Stilwell also covered new ways of ingesting marijuana – dabbing (inhaling of super-concentrated smoke) and vaporizing – and tackled several myths about marijuana. Just a few of the myths and facts follow:
Myth: Marijuana is not addictive.
Fact: Marijuana is addictive. Nine percent of people who try it become addicted, 17 percent of those who start using it in their teens become addicted, and 20-50 percent of daily users develop addiction.
Myth: Marijuana is safer than alcohol.
Fact: Both have similar dangers, including addiction, birth defects, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety and brain damage.
Myth: Marijuana is medicine.
Fact: Medicine that stimulates appetite and reduces nausea and vomiting is already on the market, such as Marinol and other drugs on track for FDA approval.
Myth: We’re locking up all our marijuana users.
Fact: Only 0.1 percent of drug-related offenders in jail are there for using marijuana.
Myth: Marijuana is good economics.
Fact: Social, health care and criminal costs would go up.
The Florida amendment on the ballot in November would allow for edible marijuana products such as butters, baked goods (brownies and donuts) and sodas.
Critics of the ballot wording, including Stilwell, argue that the measure would require no criteria for a caregiver, so that one can list oneself as a caregiver, it sets no age limit, permits unlimited marijuana use for those with a physician’s recommendation, and it allows for pot shops that could offer onsite marijuana use and delivery service. A physician can be an acupuncturists, naturopathic doctors, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists and osteopathic doctors are all listed as physicians.
Finally, the Florida law would allow out-of-state visitors to buy and use medical marijuana, which could lead to similar problems that the state had with pill mills.
“This is scary stuff,” Coalition Director Debbie Owens, said, adding that is important for word of mouth to get around to voters about the wording of the amendment. “Educate the people that you know, so they know the facts.”
Additional resources: Drug Free America Foundation, Inc., Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot, Florida Sheriff’s Association, Save Our Society From Drugs, Community Alliances for Drug Free Youth, Smart Approaches to Marijuana
SANFORD, FL – The Seminole Prevention Coalition’s late-March meeting featured guest speakers who discussed a pair of very serious issues — sexual assault and human trafficking.
Nearly 1 in 5 women (22 million) have been raped in their lifetime and only 39 percent of rapes are reported, according to statistics shared by Rebecca Crawford, Community Outreach Coordinator from the State Attorney’s Office, SAVS (Sexual Assault Victim Services).
SAVS is a certified rape crisis program working in cooperation with the State Attorney’s Office to provide free and confidential support and advocacy services to sexual assault victims and their loved ones.
SAVS is staffed with victim advocates who provide victims with emotional support and assistance in making informed decisions.
In 2012, there were 237 forcible sex offenses and seven domestic violence sex offenses reported in Seminole County. During that same year, 920 forcible sex offenses and 184 domestic violence sex offenses were reported in Orange County.
The majority of rape victims are young, between the ages of 16 and 24, Crawford added.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of female victims were raped before they turned 25 and almost half were raped before they turned 18.
“Rape is everyone’s problem, not just the victims’ problem,” Crawford said.
The 24-hour rape hotline operated by SAVS is 407-321-RAPE (7273). For more information on SAVS visit savsinc.com.
Human trafficking is another disturbing topic that was addressed by Sue Aboul-hosn, Central Region Criminal Justice Coordinator Missing Children/Human Trafficking Advocate with the state Department of Children and Families.
Human Trafficking is modern day slavery. It is defined as the transporting, soliciting, recruiting, harboring, providing, or obtaining of another person for transport; for the purposes of forced labor, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation using force, fraud and/or coercion.
In 2013, there were 12 reports of human trafficking in Seminole County.
Trafficking is a huge industry that generates up to an estimated $34 billion in profits for traffickers. Aboul-hosn explained that unlike other illegal enterprises involving drugs or weapons, people can be repeatedly exploited and sold over and over again, making the industry extremely lucrative.
There are 2.2 million victims in the United States and 56 percent of victims are women and girls. Victims can be found working on farms, in factories, bars and restaurants, brothels, escort services, on the Internet and even in private homes.
Some child victims work in traveling sales crews and roam through residential neighborhoods seeking donations for fake charities, Aboul-hosn said. They’re forced to work long hours, they’re mistreated and are left unsupervised all day long.
While anyone can become a victim of trafficking, certain populations are especially vulnerable, such as undocumented migrants, runaway and homeless youth, and impoverished individuals. These groups are all vulnerable to recruitment tactics and methods of control.
In fact, two thirds of all runaways are recruited into the sex industry after spending 48 hours on the street, Aboul-hosn said. It is estimated that 1.5 million to 2 million children will go missing this year and that 5,000 of them will die.
Please call to get help, report a tip of suspected trafficking, or request information and training.
The state Department of Children and Families Abuse Reporting Hotline is 1-800-96-ABUSE (22873) and the number for theNational Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888, or text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733).
SANFORD, FL – In January, the Seminole Prevention Coalition welcomed a representative from Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) to our meeting to discuss Big Tobacco’s efforts to target kids with ads and flavored tobacco products.
SWAT is Florida’s statewide youth organization working to mobilize, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco. The organization is open to 6th- to 12th-graders.
Our guest speaker was Shirley Castillo, of Lake Mary High School, who has been active in SWAT for more than six years. She gave an eye-opening presentation about tobacco marketing.
In 2011, Big Tobacco spent more than $8.37 billion in advertising and promotion, mostly on point of sale ads.
“Almost every tobacco product that they sale is flavored,” Shirley said, adding that fruit- and candy-flavored products are aimed at young people in an attempt to replace people who die from smoking.
Later in January, SWAT is scheduled for an educational meeting with Winter Springs City Mayor Charles Lacey to discuss flavored-tobacco issues. A Coalition representative will be on hand for support.
You can learn more about SWAT at www.swatflorida.com and learn how to quit smoking at Tobacco Free Florida at www.tobaccofreeflorida.com
SANFORD, FL – As Super Bowl Sunday approaches and football fans across the country prepare for the game, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), along with the National Football League (NFL) and Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) Coalition, have joined forces with local highway safety and law enforcement officials to spread the message about designating a sober driver on Super Bowl Sunday, because – Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.
According to NHTSA, in 2011, 9,878 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. These crashes were 31 percent more likely to occur on weekends than on weekdays.
Whether attending the game, watching at a bar or hosting a party, NHTSA, TEAM Coalition, the NFL and the Seminole Prevention Coalition remind everyone that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk. Before choosing to drink, choose your team’s MVP – a sober designated driver. NHTSA offers these additional safety tips:
If you’re attending a Super Bowl party or watching the game at a sports bar or restaurant:
If you don’t have a designated driver, then ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend, or family member to come and get you; or just stay for the night.
SANFORD, FL — The holidays are a time for celebration, visiting with loved ones, and reflecting on the year past and the year ahead. Yet all too often, the holiday spirit is destroyed by the recklessness of a drunk driver.
That’s why the Seminole Prevention Coalition is joining with highway safety partners and law enforcement organizations across the country this December to remind everyone that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, and that drinking and driving don’t mix.
Whether you’ve had one or one too many — drinking and driving is never worth the risk. If you are going to drink, designate a sober driver before the party starts, and encourage your friends and family to always do the same.
Twenty-nine percent of fatalities during the Decembers of 2007 to 2011 occurred in crashes that involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 760 people died as a result of drunk driving-related crashes during December 2011.
The Seminole Prevention Coalition is encouraging people to take steps to ensure their holiday celebrations don’t end in tragedy.
- Designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin; plan a way to get home safely at the end of the night.
- If you are impaired, call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, use public transportation or call the free ride program Tow to Go, sponsored by AAA and Bud Light, at (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246.
- Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.
- If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.
The holidays should be a time for celebration — not tragedy. Help the Seminole Prevention Coalition make Seminole County’s roadways safer by never driving after drinking. Remember: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.