Governor signs bill targeting opioid addiction

- With the swipe of a pen, Governor Rick Scott tried a new tactic in the battle against opioids -- making it easier for addicts to get help.

"I hope this stops or dramatically reduces the opioid addictions,” he said at the ceremony.  “I can't imagine family going through this.”

Now law, House Bill 21 calls for $53 million in state and federal grants for treatment programs.  It also updates the state's prescription database. 

Most importantly, it'll limit the length of opioid prescriptions.  Most will have a limit of three days, but doctors can prescribe upwards of seven days. 

"We are going to do everything we can in this state to help individuals not become addicted," continued Governor Scott. 

The governor signed the new law in Manatee County, once considered ground zero of the opioid crisis. 
Things have started to turn around in the past year.  Overdose related deaths are down 75 percent in nine months.

Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells credits the arrest of more than 40 dealers and traffickers. 

"On the law enforcement side, we are going to do what we do, but it's not going to be enough," he said. 

Sheriff Wells said the real solution involves getting to the deeper question of why people are addicted. 
He believes the governor's plan, which calls for more counseling, will help. 

"If you’re addicted and we don't properly treat them, they will always be looking for the next drug to take the place of what they are addicted to now," said Sheriff Wells. 

Amber Gordon agrees.  Once an addict, she now works as the resident director of Prodigal Daughters, a discipleship program that focuses on helping women get clean. 

"I felt trapped. I didn't feel like there was any way out," she recalled.  "I feel very strongly in my heart, they're being misdiagnosed. They're targeting the issue which is the drug and not our thinking.” 

Amber believes it'll take more help and more counseling before the problem can ever be truly solved. 

"Opioids is just a covering to mask the pain and the symptoms. It's not a real true healing," she added. 

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