For Immediate Release

September 29, 2017

DeFuniak Springs, Fla—Eleven people die every day in the state of Florida from opioids. While the average is alarming, it’s a problem that isn’t just a risk for one demographic.

 “We all know someone or have a loved one who is affected by addiction,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “No one is immune.”

It’s a sight deputies in Walton County have witnessed numerous times; a drug overdose involving someone’s mother, father, son, or daughter. Then, the notification to family and friends is not far behind.

“It happens all too often,” said Adkinson. “It’s one of the toughest things we do.”

In May Governor Rick Scott declared a statewide public health emergency for the opioid epidemic, which allowed Florida to immediately draw down more than $27 million in federal grant funding from the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Specifically, the federal funds will allow treatment and referral by courts to be evaluated for treatment of a substance abuse disorder. Treatments like VIVITROL, a non-narcotic medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to be used as a treatment alternative, along with counseling, for alcohol and opioid addiction. This medication is the only extended-release medication approved by the FDA for this purpose.

Although this medication has been available since 2014 it has been cost prohibitive due to the lack of third party insurance or Medicaid coverage. VIVITROL is a non-addictive antagonist, used to block opioid receptors so they cannot be activated.  It diminishes the cravings yet does not give a high.  The medication is administered monthly.

Now, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with Chautauqua Healthcare Services to identify inmates at the Walton County Jail who could benefit from the treatment before their release. Upon their return to the community Chautauqua Healthcare Services will provide intensive outpatient treatment, case management, employment and housing assistance in addition to their monthly injections.

“On a regular basis we have family members and friends come to us desperate to help someone they care about,” said Rachel Gillis of Chautauqua Healthcare Services.  “Until now we have had little to offer beyond residential services they cannot afford and our outpatient services.

“I believe VIVITROL will give us the ability, for the first time, to help more than we have ever been able to in the past,” said Gillis.

On October 4th Chautauqua Healthcare Services and Walton County Sheriff’s Office will have a short ceremony and an official announcement discussing the VIVITROL partnership at Bogey’s Restaurant at 660 Baldwin Avenue in DeFuniak Springs.