Noting that there have been more drug-related deaths in Manatee County than in any other county in the Sunshine State, on Monday, Congressman Vern Buchanan urged the federal government to provide more assistance.
Buchanan sent a letter to HHS Sec. Sylvia Burwell and National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli asking for federal assistance under the new Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) which President Barack Obama signed into law last week.
Calling Manatee County the “”epicenter of this deadly health crisis in my home state of Florida,” Buchanan noted the new law provides grants “ aimed at helping communities suffering from drug abuse spikes involving heroin, prescription drugs or methamphetamine.
“Sadly, Manatee County, which I represent, has experienced a surge in heroin overdoses over the past several months,” Buchanan wrote. “The situation in Florida is grim – heroin overdose deaths have increased 900 percent from 2010 to 2014. Manatee County had more heroin-related deaths per capita than any of the other 66 counties in Florida in 2014. Over the last several months, the number of overdose-related calls to law enforcement doubled, from between 5 and 10 calls a month to 19 a month. Most are heroin-related, according to the Bradenton Herald.
“But the horrific number of fatalities is only one part of the picture,” Buchanan added. “The heroin epidemic has inflicted physical and mental harm to countless children of drug-addicted parents. In fact, drug abuse among parents is a major reason why so many children are placed in foster care. Federal funds will provide critical support for our local health care providers and law enforcement officials who are on the front lines of fighting this outbreak. With these resources addiction treatment centers, law enforcement agencies, and medical professionals can expand their efforts to prevent opioid abuse, treat those already addicted, and blunt the flow of opioids and heroin flowing into Manatee County.
“Stemming this crisis is an urgent public health issue,” Buchanan concluded. “We must act swiftly to stop this epidemic because each day we delay more families are put at risk.”