Florida officially declared a Public Health Emergency on Wednesday in the wake of an opioid epidemic sweeping across the state and the country.
Earlier Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a national opioid epidemic which is ravaging areas all around the U.S.
According to CDC estimates, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled since 1999, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled in that time.
Ninety-one people die each day from overdosing on opioids like oxycodone and heroin.
In response, Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order Wednesday to beef up funding to fight back against the deadly epidemic.
Scott’s executive order would allow Florida to take out more than $27 million in federal grant dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Opioid State Targeted Response Grant, which gives Florida the tools to provide prevention, treatment and recovery support services.
Without the order, Scott’s office said, it would have taken months for the state to distribute funds to local communities to combat the crisis, which has only gotten worse, especially in South Florida.
An empathetic Scott said he knew all too well about the impact drug abuse and overdoses can have on Florida families.
“I know firsthand how heartbreaking substance abuse can be to a family because it impacted my own family growing up,” the governor said. “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.”
Scott pledged Florida would lead the way to combat the opioid crisis on home turf.
“Families across our nation are fighting the opioid epidemic and Florida is going to do everything possible to help our communities,” he said.
On top of declaring a Public Health Emergency, Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip will issue a standing order for Naloxen, an emergency treatment used for opioid overdose.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was recently tapped by President Donald Trump to the White House’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission to fight opioid addiction, said the order would be a boon to Florida’s attempt to curb opioid abuse.
“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,” she said.
View the executive order here.