Sun-Sentinel Op-Ed, March 28, 2018
While the recent actions taken by the Florida Legislature to tackle the opioid epidemic are encouraging, they are just the first step in a long process of bringing the epidemic to its end. In Broward alone, it’s estimated that two people die each day as a result of their addiction. This year alone, House of Hope has already provided $500k in additional services that were not covered by state funding.
Most people are unaware that more than 75 percent of heroin addictions start with a legal opioid prescription. And make no mistake, I am talking about working class people who get into an accident, are prescribed opioids and end up addicted to street drugs. To get to the core of the epidemic we need a stronger stance on eliminating the distributions on the street. Limiting the prescription amount is good, but as long as the drugs are available elsewhere this epidemic will continue to plague our society.
Most people are unaware that more than 75 percent of heroin addictions start with a legal opioid prescription. The Legislature’s plan is a wonderful start, but mental health experts know there is no one-size-fits-all remedy when it comes to prevention, treatment and care. This epidemic requires a multi-pronged approach that includes prevention as well as expanded, affordable access to care. Prevention programs are the key ingredient to stop the bleeding. This includes bringing back drug prevention programs into Broward County’s schools, and ample funding for service providers to offer programs to the community at large.
Enactment of legislation often lags far behind its passage and we can’t afford to wait because the cost of treating individuals who are already addicted is far greater than the implementation costs associated with prevention.
Susan Glasscock, M.S., C.F.R.E., C.R.R.A, is the CEO of House of Hope, Broward’s largest and longest service provider of substance abuse rehabilitation programming.