Heroin Epidemic

Rep. Vern Buchanan to host meeting on Florida's heroin crisis

Florida congressional delegation will listen to addiction experts and guest panelists

Rep. Vern Buchanan on Thursday will co-chair in Washington, D.C., a Florida congressional delegation meeting on the heroin crisis in the state.

Buchanan's district includes Manatee County, which is the epicenter of the crisis.

A guest panelist at the meeting will be Melissa Larkin-Skinner, chief clinical officer of Centerstone Behavioral Hospital and Outpatient Practice in Bradenton. Centerstone provides inpatient and outpatient mental health and addiction treatment to adults and children.

"Countless families in Florida and across the country have borne witness to the tragic consequences of drug addiction and opiate abuse," Buchanan said. "The growing heroin crisis requires a serious and comprehensive approach by Congress. I look forward to discussing thoughtful solutions with my colleagues and experts on Thursday."

Buchanan will co-chair the delegation meeting with Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.

Citing a Bradenton Herald story, Buchanan said the Florida Medical Examiners Commission reported Monday the number of heroin deaths in Florida in the first half of 2015 was 115 percent higher than during the same period a year earlier.

Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, this year in Bradenton hosted a roundtable discussion on the heroin problem.

Other guest panelists:

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., author of anti-drug legislation pending in Congress.

Frank C. Rabbito, senior vice president of WestCare Foundation in Miami, a national nonprofit organization that provides a broad continuum of behavioral and mental health services in 17 states and two territories.

The program will also include brief remarks from a Miami resident now in recovery from heroin addiction. The resident is a former client of the WestCare/Village South Treatment Program in Miami.

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