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Florida opioid overdoses are down for the first time in years

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For the first time in 10 years, Central Florida counties saw a decrease in opioid overdose deaths.

Opioid overdose deaths are declining overall in the Sunshine State, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Central Florida saw some of the biggest reductions.

Opioid overdose deaths skyrocketed after the start of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. But in 2022, Florida saw a 2.6% decrease in drug overdoses, CDC data showed. One of the largest drops in the state came out of Brevard County, which saw a 49% decrease. Seminole and Orange counties saw decreases of over 11%.

The reductions are due to a combination of available medication, such as naloxone, and widespread education, said Andrae Bailey the founder of Project Opioid.

“I think what was surprising to me if anything, was how quickly lives can be saved, an 11% reduction in one year,” he said, but Bailey isn't celebrating yet. "This is not even the beginning of the end perhaps this could be the end of a new beginning for this community on how we can turn the tide on this opioid crisis and save the lives of so many of our young people who are dying."

Last year, more than 800 residents died as a result of overdose. CDC data shows overdose deaths in the country jumped by 94% among adolescents 14 to 18 years old in 2020, and an additional 20% in 2021.

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Joe Mario Pedersen