UCF researchers release report on opioid addiction in Central Florida

Leaders share plan to attack opioid crisis

ORLANDO, Fla. – Leaders at the University of Central Florida, alongside members of Project Opioid, addressed the issue of opioid abuse and their plan to attack it during a meeting in Orlando Tuesday.

During the meeting, called "A Prescription for Change: Finding Solutions for the Opioid Crisis in Central Florida," the leaders shared their findings in a report on the region's opioid crisis.

"When UCF releases data saying that 68,000 individuals in our community have dependency of opioids, many of them have no treatment or help," Project Opioid founder Andrae Bailey said. 

Bailey said he thinks people are finally realizing that even legal drugs can be deadly.

[RELATED: First of its kind opioid treatment center coming to SanfordSeminole County Sheriff's Office saving, supporting addicts]

According to a news release, UCF's research team took an in-depth look at Central Florida's opioid problem and analyzed some of the best practices in the United States to make recommendations on ways to fight it.

During the study, leaders spoke with health care experts for advice on steps to take to fight addiction in Central Floridians' workplaces, congregations and homes.

Harry Nelson, health care expert and author of "The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain," also spoke during the event.

[MORE: Seminole County sheriff asks for support in battling opioid crisis]

According to the release, Nelson was one of the health care experts who contributed to the data analysis and offered recommendations, to help the region fight the opioid crisis.

Bailey said leaders want people to see the data to understand how big the issue is.

"The main point I would say people need to hear, (is) that the data says people are dying and that nothing is going to change that unless we get help those who are struggling with opioids," Bailey said. 

According to numbers shown during a presentation at the event, more than 1,083,000 opioid prescriptions were written in Central Florida in 2018. So far, more than 729,000 have been written this year.

"At the end of the day, opioids are killing more people in our community than we ever seen -- and in record numbers," Bailey said. 

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