Community leaders looking to stop opioid overdose deaths, blame pandemic

Project Opioid reports rise in overdose deaths within the last year

ORLANDO, Fla. – Church leaders and law enforcement are working together to address the rise in overdose deaths within the last year.

“What we are seeing is a perfect storm of the previous overdose crisis now colliding with COVID-19 and driving the numbers of deaths from overdose to historic levels,” Andrae Bailey, CEO of Project Opioid said.

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According to a data study by Project Opioid and analyzed by the Florida Department of Health, during the months of March, April, May and June 2020, there was a 110% overdose death increase among Black Floridians.

The second-highest rate was 67% among Latinos.

“What we saw during the pandemic is so many that were struggling with mental health issues, struggling with drugs, turned to those drugs in greater concentrations with tragic consequences and during the lockdown you couldn’t go to your doctor, you couldn’t go to your therapy,” Bailey explained.

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma, a coach for Project Opioid, said they are working to bring more community programs to reach those struggling with opioid addiction.

He said the problem is not going away anytime soon, which is why it’s important for local leaders to step in to help.

“We’ve incorporated a lot in various programs in Seminole County and this project with project opioid brings the faith community together, the business community together and the public sector to come up with real reasonable solutions,” Lemma said.

Project Opioid plans on meeting again April 8.

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