Across the U.S., more than 92,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020. Florida had over 7,555 overdoses and Polk County, Florida had 195 overdoses up from 140 in 2019. (2021 Statics are not available on FloridaHealth.gov site)
As part of a $26B settlement to resolve opioid lawsuits with Johnson & Johnson, Florida received over $1.3 Billion dollars in order to help combat the opioid crisis. Auburndale, Bartow, Haines City, Lakeland, Lake Wales, and Winter Haven received a portion of these funds to address drug issues in the county.
Polk county Sherriff Grady Judd stated recently in a Ledger Article “The illegal use of drugs is stoning America, and I believe that every penny of this money for Polk County should be plowed directly into drug abuse rehabilitation programs.”
While Florida is busy combatting the the opioid and overdose crisis through drug prevention and rehab it appears that the Biden administration may be undermining their efforts by building out programs that freely provide paraphernalia vs providing more access to rehabilitation services to prevent drug use or abuse. How are we helping users by providing them free access to paraphernalia that enables them to continue to use drugs?
Below is some information on the Harm Reduction program being supported by the Biden administration. Here is the document.
Through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services substance abuse harm reduction grant the Biden administration will be providing various types of free drug paraphernalia kits to substance abusers. While many will argue that this is false or not factual the grant clearly states examples of what is included as part of the harm reduction program.
For example, part of the safe smoking kit/supplies users will be provided a rubber mouthpieces for glass pipes, in order to prevent burns and cuts; brass screens, in order to filter out potentially harmful contaminants or debris; as well as disinfectant wipes.
The grant states that the real purpose of the program is to support community-based overdose prevention programs, syringe services programs, and other harm reduction services.
Funding will be used to enhance overdose and other types of prevention activities to help control the spread of infectious diseases and the consequences of such diseases for individuals with, or at risk of developing substance use disorders (SUD), support distribution of FDA-approved overdose reversal medication to individuals at risk of overdose, build connections for individuals at risk for, or with, a SUD to overdose education, counseling, and health education, refer individuals to treatment for infectious diseases such as HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and viral hepatitis, and encourage such individuals to take steps to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of substance use or misuse.
List and quantity of harm reduction materials purchased with grant funds
including, but not limited to:
o Harm reduction vending machine(s), including stock for machines;
o Infectious diseases testing kits (HIV, HBV, HCV, etc.);
o Medication lock boxes;
o FDA-approved overdose reversal medication(as well as higher dosages
now approved by FDA);
o Safe sex kits, including PrEP resources and condoms;
o Safe smoking kits/supplies;
o Screening for infectious diseases (HIV, sexually transmitted infections,
o Sharps disposal and medication disposal kits;
o Substance test kits, including test strips for fentanyl and other synthetic
o Syringes to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases;
o Vaccination services (hepatitis A, hepatitis B vaccination); and
o Wound care management supplies.