Addiction rates on the rise, expert speaks on the importance of education to prevent overdose’s

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Drug overdoses and addiction rates are on the rise.

“Over this past year and a half our addiction rates have definitely tripled, and overdose rates have exceeded a normal function,” Christopher Chodkowski primary trauma addiction therapist, said.

In 2020 there were more than 7 thousand fatal overdoses in the state of Florida according to the Florida Department of Health.

“You are literally looking at in the state of Florida you are having somebody overdose almost one in every seven minutes. So, without the proper tools on board and the knowledge and the education, it’s not a good turnout,” Chodkowski said.

Tools like naloxone, better known as NARCAN.

“There are two different products out there, Narcan which is a nasal spray. It is naloxone and then there is ZIMHI which is 5mg, that is introduced into the bloodstream immediately,” Chodkowski said.

Chodkowski said that he has seen the effectiveness of these products.

“I have had 6 overdoses in the past 6 weeks on every single overdose where I have used ZIMHI their turnaround has been tremendous. Like I said they become alert and oriented, CPR has stopped, and they are back to some sort of normal function,” Chodkowski said.

But besides having tools, experts say education about addiction is also key.

“I think one of the most important messages, is definitely the fentanyl but it is looking at the addiction aspect and realizing the addiction there is no cure for addiction, but addiction is based on trauma, and once people become aware and educated on the fact of trauma that is where we can make the difference,” Chodkowski said

If you are struggling with addiction or knowing of someone that is, there are ways to get help.

“You can pick up the phone you can call narcotics anonymously, you can call any type of rehab facility. If you want help the options are there. One of our best options with Aspen Behavioral Health is we do promote the fact of if you need help give us a call we will get you into whatever program you need and then you’ll come to our facility for a partial hospitalization along with intensive outpatient treatment,” Chodkowski said.

The Florida Department of Health in Bay County is distributing Narcan kits to those who may need them. You do have to meet a few eligibility requirements you must be 18 years old or older, at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose or are a caregiver who is likely to witness an opioid overdose.


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