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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 22, 2017

North Floridians Warned of Opioid Abuse

National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Awareness Week Is September 17-23

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – As designated by Presidential proclamation, September 17 through 23 is National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.  In observance, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is urging Northern Floridians to be aware of the rising public health crisis of opioid abuse.

 

United States Attorney Christopher P. Canova said: “Good people are suffering as a result of this crisis.  Compounding the problem is that drug dealers are adding other substances, such as fentanyl and carfentanyl, to the heroin sold, making the mixture so strong that very small doses are fatal.  We must educate the community of this danger, while bringing to justice those who peddle this poison.  The heroin and opioid epidemic requires a coordinated response from law enforcement agencies, treatment centers, and the public.”

 

Attorney General Sessions has mentioned that, in 2015, a record 52,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses.  For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death.  Based on preliminary data, approximately 64,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses last year.  In 2015, opioids were responsible for most of the fatal overdoses in this country, killing more than 33,000 Americans – quadruple the number from 20 years ago.  Last year, 1.3 million hospital visits in the United States were related to these drugs.

 

During this week and beyond, Americans can learn more about the disease of addiction, join with community members to support evidence-based prevention and treatment programs, and stand with those who are suffering or recovering from a substance use disorder to let them know they are not alone.

 

Education:

 

Opioid Overdose and Reversal Training: In July, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) co-sponsored trainings in Pensacola for 85 law enforcement officers, first responders, health care professionals, and military personnel in opioid overdose treatment and reversal options, including the use of the drug Naloxone/Narcan.  If administered quickly enough, Naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and restart a victim’s breathing.  Many agencies within the Northern District of Florida have already equipped their first responders with the opioid reversal drug.

 

Film Screenings and Panel Discussions: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) co-produced a 45-minute documentary titled Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict.  The film features several stark, first-hand accounts of the dangers of opiate addiction.  A free download of the film is available online, along with a teacher discussion guide.

 

Over the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has partnered with other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and DEA, to host screenings of the film to educate students on the dangers of opiate abuse and to discuss how the issue could impact their lives and future careers.

 

On November 3, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and LEAD Coalition will co-host the Bay County Youth Crime Prevention Summit at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City.  The Chasing the Dragon film screening will be a part of this program.

 

Enforcement

 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutes heroin and other drug-related offenses.  This is a recent example.

Six People Sentenced in Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy

In 2017 and 2016, six residents of the Gainesville/Ocala area were sentenced for conspiring to distribute heroin and other drug-related charges.  Several of the defendants were responsible for more than one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of heroin in the conspiracy.

 

What You Can Do:

  • Talk to your family, friends, colleagues, and community about the dangers of heroin and opioid abuse.  It can happen to anyone.
  • Contact law enforcement officers if you suspect drug-related activity in your neighborhood.
  • If you have prescription opioids in your home, ensure they are safely locked away.  For information about properly disposing of unused medicines, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

For More Information:
2017 Presidential proclamation

Department of Justice, Heroin and Opioid Awareness
Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict
Attorney General Sessions Announces Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.  To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website.  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.

Topic(s): 
Community Outreach
Consumer Protection
Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs
Contact: 
For more information, contact: Amy Alexander, Public Information Officer amy.alexander@usdoj.gov
Updated September 22, 2017