During a meeting on Monday, a new pilot program was announced in efforts to combat the epidemic that is responsible for killing 500 last year alone - opioid addiction. The pilot program could soon help save lives on the First Coast.
UF Health Jacksonville plans to launch the state’s first pilot program to help addicts at the start of their treatment and help them transition through various treatments and rehab.
By providing a recovery support specialist at the emergency room, the patient would have someone that will guide them to the next step in treatment and possible community resources for the patient and their families.
A mother says that although the programs sounds great on paper she says she has watched her son, a recovering addict, struggle. She wished to remain anonymous but told us she has seen many people die from overdoses.
"I’m watching my son’s childhood friends that used to spend the night at my home when they were little boys, it brings tears to my eyes, they’re dying," said the woman.
In Jacksonville, heroin and opioid overdoses are killing people 3 times more than gun violence.
"It brings you down so much more quicker and it’s so much more powerful and addictive," said Joseph Cascella a recovery and support coach with Gateway, a detox facility. He says addicts need long term care.
"The drug is the mere symptom of the problem," said Cascella.
Cascella who also attended Monday’s meeting says the proposed pilot program is an excellent start but more resources are needed. "We need more beds, more facilities to put these people into, better education for the public."
Although the mother we spoke with says the pilot program is a good start she says there’s still a long road ahead to solve the opioid epidemic on the First Coast. “There’s not enough room, there’s not enough resources and nobody knows what they’re doing.”
The pilot program is set to launch in May