As the opioid crisis continues in Manatee County and shows little to no sign of slowing down, the Florida Department of Children and Families has submitted an application for a grant to help expand and enhance access to medication-assisted treatment.
Last week, DCF submitted an application to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for the Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction Grant, according to a release from the department. If Florida is awarded the grant, the state would receive $2 million per year for up to three years.
Florida is one of 17 states eligible to apply for the grant, but only five states will be selected in the fall to receive the funds, according to the release.
The grant’s proposal, according to the release, is aimed to increase the number of people receiving medical assisted treatment, integrated care, along with peer and other recovery support services. Other goals include decreasing the use of illicit/non-prescribed opioids, increasing the percentage of individuals retained in care six months after initiating treatment and improving social functioning.
Opioids have an especially strong grip in Manatee County.
In the first six months of this year, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office responded to 787 suspected overdose calls, an increase of 156 percent, compared with 307 calls between January and June of last year.
In 2015, Manatee County had the highest number of deaths per capita among Florida’s 67 counties in which the medical examiner found a presence of heroin, fentanyl, morphine or cocaine, according to the Medical Examiners Commission annual report. Fentanyl is an opioid 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine that is often mixed into other drugs such as heroin.
A provider that serves Manatee County is included in the grant’s proposal, David Frady, press secretary for DCF said in an email to the Herald.
However, the specific breakdown of the allocation to that provider, Operation PAR, would be determined should state receive the grant. Frady said.
Operation PAR, a nonprofit methadone clinic with a location in Bradenton, is managed by Central Florida Behavioral Health Network and services Manatee, Sarasota, Pasco, Pinellas and Lee counties.
Funds from Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction grant would supplement the $27 million in grant funds that became available in May after Gov. Rick Scott declared a public health emergency.