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More than 1,000 Central Floridians died from an opioid overdose last year

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence at a trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. Accidental overdoses contribute to 90 percent of all U.S. opioid-related deaths. Rising use of illicitly manufactured and highly potent synthetic opioids including fentanyl has likely contributed to the unintentional death rate, which surged nine-fold between 2000 and 2017, the study found. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP, File)

Florida had one of its worst years of the opioid epidemic last year, due to a number of factors including isolation caused by the COVID pandemic.  

The more than 1,000 Central Floridians who died from a drug overdose were remembered at a ceremony at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando on Wednesday. 

Andrae Bailey is the director of Project Opioid, a nonprofit that provides free naloxone and other resources to people struggling with addiction.

Bailey says more needs to be done to sound the alarm about the state’s addiction problem. 

“This is the number one cause of death in Central Florida and in America for someone 40 and under.”

Bailey says overdoses are now the number one leading cause of death for young people because of the accessibility of fentanyl and other deadly pills. 

“The death rate among middle schoolers doubled in one year. In one year it doubled. Because of fake pills and fentanyl winding its way up and every substance on the street.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Ron DeSantis rolled out an opioid recovery network aimed at making addiction treatment accessible to more Floridians.

Click here, to get free NARCAN from Project Opioid. And click here to learn how to use NARCAN.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »