Ron DeSantis Creates Task Force to Take on Substance Abuse, Opioid Epidemic

On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis took aim at the substance abuse and opioid epidemics plaguing Florida, announcing plans for an executive order on the matter.

DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, state Attorney General Ashley Moody and Department of Children and Families Secretary (DCF) Chad Poppell made the announcement at a media event on Monday.

“Substance abuse is a serious public health concern and although great progress has been made, the opioid epidemic continues to devastate families and communities throughout our state,” said DeSantis. “These issues require effective and immediate action and my administration is committed to taking the necessary steps to combat this crisis.”

Noting that the federal government has awarded an additional $26 million for Florida’s State Opioid Response Project which is “designed to address the opioid crisis by reducing opioid deaths, preventing opioid abuse among our young people, and increasing recovery services and access to treatment.”

DeSantis ordered the Office of Drug Control within the Executive Office of the Governor which then Gov. Rick Scott pulled the plug on during his first term. The governor also created a Statewide Task Force on Opioid Drug Abuse which “will develop a statewide strategy and identify best practices to combat the opioid epidemic through education, treatment, prevention, recovery and law enforcement.”

“The opioid epidemic has taken far too many lives and devastated too many of our local communities,” said Nuñez. “Our administration is taking immediate action today to address this crisis through enforcement, prevention and recovery.”

“I want to thank Governor DeSantis for bringing federal, state and local governments and stakeholders together to fight the opioid crisis and save lives,” said Moody. “As a former federal prosecutor and circuit judge, who saw firsthand how this crisis ravaged our communities, I am honored to help lead this mission. I look forward to bolstering our ongoing efforts against this deadly crisis claiming 17 lives a day in Florida.”

“We appreciate the support of the governor and first lady in the ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic in Florida and look forward to working with the task force,” said Poppell. “Too often, children come into care because of their parent’s opioid use. This $26 million, along with the significant investments already made, will further Florida’s ability to provide treatment, expand hospital bridge programs, and enhance coordination within the child welfare system to help the parents of vulnerable children.”

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