TAMPA, Fla — According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths remain high across the country and synthetic opioids are the main driver.
The CDC also reports that Florida is second in the nation when it comes to overdose deaths.
It’s something more rural parts of the state, like Gadsden county, are dealing with for the first time. Law enforcement there tell ABC Action News they can’t fight it alone.
“We have asked for assistance from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office—we specifically asked for assistance in training dealings with deaths, and investigations involving overdoses, especially those involving fentanyl,” said Colonel Bobby Collins, Law Enforcement Bureau Chief Gadsden County.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told ABC Action News that investigators will head to Gadsden County on Monday to assist in a training course which will help address the epidemic plaguing communities across the country.
“It’s a huge problem here in the Tampa Bay area,” said Ellen Snelling, the Board Chair of the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance.
Data from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Department showed drug overdoses in the last decade have been on a steady incline.
“In 2021, everything was headed up with fentanyl as the main driver for overdoses,” Snelling added.
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She told me her focus is raising awareness on what drugs can do, hoping families don’t go through the same thing she did.
“I lost my brother to a fentanyl overdose. It was in, he was using heroin at the time, he did not know there’s fentanyl in it. It killed him. So I feel, my heart breaks for the families affected,” Snelling explained .
The CDC reports more than 7,000 people in Florida died from drug overdose in 2020.
Snelling said as drug overdoses continue to rise it’s crucial people take extra precautions.
“I have two narcan containers in my house. And I think everyone should have narcan. That’s the point we’re at right now,” Snelling said.