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Melissa Larkin-Skinner Addressed FL Senate Committee On Opioid Crisis

Melissa Larkin-Skinner, chief executive officer of Centerstone Florida, testified in front of Florida’s Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, October 12 to share on-the-ground perspectives on the opioid epidemic in Florida and encourage the state government to allocate sufficient funding for substance use disorder prevention and treatment.

“We are in the midst of a devastating public health crisis,” said Larkin-Skinner.  “At Centerstone, we see firsthand the impact of the opioid crisis every day and the ripple effect it is having on individuals, families, and our communities.  Increased use of opioids and overdose in Florida have created financial burden for local governments, first responders, and treatment providers; and have caused tremendous emotional burden for families.  Without continued support for addiction treatment services, we are endangering the health and wellbeing of our state and every person who lives here.”

Located in Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Centerstone is in a geographic region that has been called the epicenter of the opioid epidemic in Florida in recent years, impacting individuals, families, and communities – both personally and financially.

Year over year for the past four years, the Manatee Country Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has experienced a 100 percent increase in the use of naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose.  EMS administered 325 doses in 2013 and 2504 doses in 2016.

Florida’s children have, unfortunately, become victims of the epidemic as well. The number of children in Manatee County in under state supervision has more than doubled in the past three years, which has increased the cost of out-of-home care from $3.5 million to $7.2 million.  Additionally, there were 17 parent deaths in 2016 due to opioid overdoes or medical issues related to drug use – a significant increase from the one or two deaths in previous years.

“What we are experiencing in Manatee County is happening in other parts of Florida, and we must increase our efforts to address the opioid epidemic and ensure that individuals have access to the treatment they need,” said Larkin-Skinner.  “We know that prevention and treatment work.  We just have to invest adequately in them.  I am pleased to share Centerstone’s experiences with the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee, and I will encourage them to allocate additional funds toward prevention and treatment so we can put an end to this epidemic.”

The Senate Committee on Appropriations met Thursday, October 12, at 1:00 p.m., in 412 Knott, Tallahassee, Florida.  The full Florida State Senate was invited to participate. Additional speakers testifying at the hearing include: Ann Berner, CEO, Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network; Sheriff Tommy Ford, Bay County Sheriff; Stacey Cook Hawk, CEO, Saluscare; Mary Lynn Ulrey, CEO, DACCO.

Melissa Larkin-Skinner’s presentation begins at 2:09:50 in this video from the October 12 Senate Appropriations Committee.

For more information on Centerstone Florida’s Addiction Treatment Services call (941) 782-4617. For information on Centerstone’s services, call (888) 291-4357.