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Battling the Fentanyl Crisis in Florida’s Gateway

| Staff Reporters
“Here in Santa Rosa County, we, and all of our neighbors in the gateway to Florida, find ourselves facing an alarming and distressing challenge – a fentanyl crisis is knocking at our door and making it the epicenter of overdose incidents within the state. The severity of this crisis has taken a devastating toll, with a sharp rise in overdoses and a grim reality: most people who use fentanyl in our area do not survive.
Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid known for its staggering potency, lies at the core of our community’s ordeal. The issue is multifaceted, but one key issue is that the drug dealers who are lacing other drugs, have no clue what it is that they are doing, as they are not licensed pharmacists. The other main factor in all the overdoses that we are seeing is that the people using the drugs do not know what they are taking or if it is laced with fentanyl.

 The impact on our community in NWFL is heart-wrenching. Our healthcare system is under immense strain, our families are reeling from the loss of loved ones, and we in law enforcement are battling a wave of drug-related crime.

 As your sheriff, I assure you that my department is doing everything we can to confront this devastating crisis. Our deputies on the road carry naloxone with them at all times. All first responding deputies having access to this drug can make a difference in preventing overdose deaths. Public education campaigns should be intensified to inform the community about the dangers of fentanyl and the risks of using other illegal substances. Additionally, we must prioritize addiction treatment and support for those caught in the grip of this crisis, as it can affect every walk of life.

 It is clear that no single entity can solve this crisis alone. Unity, compassion, and a collective commitment to our community’s well-being are crucial. Our policymakers must take heed in allocating resources and implementing policies that facilitate effective intervention, treatment, and strengthen our borders. Our area is a clear indicator that having an unsecured border jeopardizes the safety and well-being of our citizens at a local level. Stopping the entry of these illegal and dangerous substances into our western border of Florida, and even more so, stopping the illegal smuggling of these substances over our nation’s southern border is paramount.

 In conclusion, we stand at a crossroads as a community, battling a fentanyl crisis of unprecedented proportions. The urgency of this situation cannot be overstated. A whole community response is vital. It is only through solidarity, education, and unwavering support that we can strengthen our communities.”

-Sheriff Bob Johnson, Santa Rosa County

*Editor’s note: This is a guest opinion piece from Sheriff Johnson*

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