Ron DeSantis Expands CORE Program as Florida Continues to Face Opioid Crisis

This week, Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded the Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) program, which helps Florida deal with the current opioid crisis, to other parts of the state.

“The network of addiction care – Coordinated Opioid Recovery (CORE) – is the first of its kind in the nation, coordinated through the Department of Health, Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration,” the governor’s office noted.

After two years of being piloted in Palm Beach County, the program is being expanded to include Brevard, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Gulf, Manatee, Marion, Pasco and Volusia Counties, with a further expansion in the works.

“Biden’s border crisis has caused a massive infusion of drugs coming into our state,” said DeSantis. “This year, we increased the penalties for individuals trafficking drugs in our state, and now we are giving Floridians the tools they need to break the substance abuse cycle. Substance abuse can affect any family at any time, so from education to law enforcement to treatment, we are going to make sure that Floridians can take advantage of this new addiction recovery model.”

“It is so vital for individuals contending with a substance use disorder to have access to the right array of services that will work for their individual needs,” said Department of Children and Families Sec. Shevaun Harris. “When agencies, stakeholders, and partners alike come together to bolster our state’s system of care, we can ensure that Floridians have access to comprehensive services when they need it most. Today’s announcement of the implementation of the CORE Network model throughout the state is yet another example of how the DeSantis administration is leveraging our state’s resources to help families move forward with dignity on their journey of recovery.”

“Addiction is heartbreaking for all involved, and we ultimately want to help people address the stress traumas that led them to addiction,” said Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “One day the standard of care will address the trauma and the stress, but until then we have the evidence-based practices that exist in place. This program is an applied, intensive application to managing addiction through powerful, effective practice that connects people to what they need to get out of the horrific cycle of addiction.”

“Substance use disorder is a chronic, life-threatening, and relapsing disease that needs to be treated like all other chronic diseases with medical and subspecialty expertise,” said Florida Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth Scheppke. “Launching CORE will create a sustained system of care to manage the complex medical needs of these patients and bring lasting recovery and good health.”

DeSantis named Dr. Courtney Phillips to be Florida’s first Statewide Director of Opioid Recovery. Phillips is psychologist and the Director of Behavioral Health for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County.

“The state of Florida should be proud today to take the lead on systematically tackling the opioid and substance use epidemic with compassion and competent care,” said Phillips. “Our state and communities did not choose this epidemic, but today we choose to treat this medical and psychiatric illness like any other, with access, evidence-based care, and lifelong comprehensive treatment.”

The governor’s office noted that, so far in 2022, there have been almost 2,000 fatal overdoses in the Sunshine State. Law enforcement agencies across the state continue to seize more illegal drugs than usual and have reported use of fentanyl.

Kevin Derby
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