DeSantis: Opioid overdoses up 62% in Florida; $5 million pledged to fight addiction

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says the federal government is stepping in to help with the opioid crisis.

The state is set to get $5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Labor for programs to help people suffering from opioid addiction.

For some recovering addicts, finding help can be difficult -- even more so during a pandemic. Governor DeSantis said he believes isolation could be fueling worsening an already bad situation.

"When people are told to stay apart and isolate, that has really negative effects when you're talking about someone that may be addicted," DeSantis said.

Tuesday, the governor, first lady Casey DeSantis, and health officials from around the state hosted a roundtable in Seminole County to discuss the ongoing crisis and offer help to those suffering from addiction.

According to the governor, opioid overdoses in Florida are up 62% over the last 6 months, compared to last year.

"There are good people who are suffering. It's just about making sure, especially in these difficult times, that people are getting the help that they need and the hope for the future," first lady Casey Desantis said.

To help with the crisis, a pilot program called Support to Communities will provide training to mental health workers on how to identify and respond to people with substance use disorders. The initiative will also prepare individuals in recovery to become peer counselors.

"We think this can make a positive difference. Obviously, it builds upon the efforts the state has already done, but particularly our local communities and not just local governments, but private sector," Gov. DeSantis said.

Casey DeSantis added, "We're going to measure this. We're going to follow the data. We're going to follow the evidence and we are going to make sure there are good outcomes."

Officials carrying out the program said they plan to measure the results over a 4-year period and could choose to expand it depending on the success.