Governor Declares Public Health Emergency for Opioid Crisis

(photo represents life-threatening dosage of each drug)

On January 25 the Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA) held a press conference in Tallahassee to call statewide attention to Florida’s growing opioid crisis.  Today, the state took action. Governor Rick Scott signed Executive Order 17-146 directing a Public Health Emergency across the state.

Governor Scott said, “Today, I issued an executive order which allows the state to immediately draw down more than $27 million in federal grant funding which will immediately be distributed to communities across the state to deal with the opioid epidemic.”

“I know firsthand how heartbreaking substance abuse can be to a family because it impacted my own family growing up. The individuals struggling with drug use are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends and each tragic case leaves loved ones searching for answers and praying for help. Families across our nation are fighting the opioid epidemic and Florida is going to do everything possible to help our communities.”

The funding is from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Opioid State Targeted Response Grant which was awarded to Florida on April 21 to provide prevention, treatment and recovery support services. In addition to declaring a Public Health Emergency, Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip will issue a standing order for Naloxone, an emergency treatment for opioid overdose. This will ensure first responders have immediate access to this lifesaving drug to respond to opioid overdoses.

In April, Governor Scott directed the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Department of Health (DOH) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to meet with communities in Palm Beach, Manatee, Duval and Orange Counties to identify additional strategies to fight the rising opioid usage cases in Florida. The meetings took place between May 1 and May 3 and every workshop was packed with community members.

A growing number of voices have been calling for action on the state’s opioid crisis. Attorney General Pam Bondi joined FBHA at the January press conference and she added her voice to today’s decision. Bondi said, “This declaration will help strengthen our continued efforts to combat the national opioid epidemic claiming lives in Florida by providing additional funding to secure prevention, treatment and recovery support services…Governor Scott has long supported efforts by my office and law enforcement to raise awareness, stop drug abuse and save lives.”

See the Executive Order and Public Health Emergency HERE.