As the epicenter of the opioid epidemic in Florida, Manatee County is hoping to receive state funds to help addicts recover.
The Manatee County Commission on Tuesday gave county staff the OK to proceed with seeking state funding for an Opioid-focused Recovery “Peer Coach” Pilot Program.
“Manatee County has areas more impacted than others, and a pilot program affording community-based outreach, intervention and education from the recovery community would serve to increase awareness of hope, treatment and health risks including death in those targeted areas,” county documents state.
Just in Manatee County for three months, Joshua Barnett, the county’s health care services manager, said he constantly hears that the opioid crisis is affecting the area more than anything else.
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“They are not wrong,” he said. “It is really impacting this community. We are the county that is most impacted.”
Peer support is an evidence-based practice that has been around for awhile, Barnett said.
“It’s really a way to instill hope,” he said, adding that it provides community-based outreach.
The program would show addicts others who have found a way to break the cycle of addicition and what the alternatives are and that there is a way to get out the cycle, Barnett said.
“By having peer support or recovery coaches, they can go out to the community of the greatest of needs,” he said. “There is potential to recovery.”
The request is for $500,000 in state funding for “a pilot demonstration outreach project focused upon opioid and substance use disorder prevention, intervention and education program utilizing the evidence-based practice of peer recovery coaching, targeting neighborhoods most effected,” county documents state.
Centerstone of Florida currently doesn’t have a program like this, Barnett said.
“We have to seek out who would be willing to do the service,” he said.
During this upcoming legislative session, state lawmakers are hoping to start making a dent in addressing the opioid epidemic. Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, has put together a bill to help address the epidemic.
“Our legislators understand that we are ground zero for the problem,” said Nick Azzara, county spokesman.
Through the program, they could see some outcomes rather quickly, Barnett said, adding that they are hoping for it to be a permanent program.
“It would be to find a way to continue to fund it,” he said.