It is no secret that Sarasota and Manatee County are at the center of a drug overdose epidemic.  The increase in Opiod related deaths is challenging law enforcement and public health agencies to find new ways to combat this problem. While aggressive efforts to capture and lock up dealers is a priority, we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem.

This month, the organization drug free Manatee is hosting training events to help those on the front lines of this war. First Responders, Law Enforcement, public health and community leaders. Equally important sessions are also being held for relatives.  These are very positive examples of proactive outreach initiatives  that can make a difference. 

Families and friends are usually the first to notice there is a problem, they need to know where they can turn for help and what they can do to intercede.  Waiting for the person using the drugs to admit they have a problem does not work when you are talking about addictive Opioids.

To that point we need to adopt a sense of public urgency that gives families early interdiction rights, new laws in Tallahassee that provide special fast tracking provisions for baker acting people with addictions.  While forced rehab may not be a long term solution, it would help remove victims from a self destructive path before they become full blown addicts.

Equally important, the financial and legal support for the Department of Children and Families so children of addicts can be removed before the parent overdoses but also provide a safe way for recovering addicts to maintain a relationship with their children. We applaud the recent efforts by Public and Community Organizations like Drug Free Manatee.  Nothing short of an all out assault that is focused on Education, interdiction and rehabilitation will put an end to this crisis.

I'm Steve Sabato, and we'd like to hear from you.