Good News/Bad News In Florida's Fight Against Opioid Abuse

29 Charged In Mass. Fentanyl Bust
 

The number of overdose deaths from opioids continues to fall in Palm Beach County and around the state.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who started the Sober Homes Task Force 3 years ago, cites that for locking up people who were luring addicts to our area and using them to commit insurance fraud.

He cites that task force, along with other factors for the encouraging stats within the county.

"All of those things combined led to a 40% decrease in opioid overdose deaths in 2018 compared to 2017 and a 20 percent decrease in opioid overdose deaths in Palm Beach County for the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period last year."

Statewide, there was a 13 percent decrease in deaths caused by opioids from 2017 to 2018.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that overall drug overdose deaths declined for the first time in nearly three decades, but there was an increase in the number of deaths attributed to the drug Fentanyl.

"Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and today's opioid epidemic has morphed into a Fentanyl epidemic. That is now the leading killer within the opioid category."

Aronberg says one way to get rid of the Fentanyl that's killing our residents is to "get tough with China."

He says the U.S. needs to pressure China to stop exporting the drug, which is often brought in through our southern border with Mexico.

Last year, Florida passed a law restricting the amount of opioids that can be prescribed at one time, but Fentanyl is usually purchased on the street.

Aronberg says it's often mixed in with drugs like Heroin or Cocaine.

"People often don't know they're getting Fentanyl until it's too late. It's way more powerful than Heroin or Morphine and it can kill you with just a few particles."

Aronberg once served as Florida's so-called "Drug Czar," working for then-Attorney General Pam Bondi to bust doctors who were over-prescribing painkillers.

He founded the Sober Homes Task Force, which has been putting away unscrupulous operators in the drug treatment industry. The task force has resulted in 86 arrests for fraud and abuse in the drug treatment and sober homes industries since 2016. It works in Palm Beach County on the law enforcement side, but there is a second, civilian component which operates statewide.

We also spoke with Palm Beach County's Chief Assistant State Attorney. Al Johnson heads up the Sober Homes Task Force. Hear the important information he has to share in the audio player above.

Photo: Getty Images

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