Jacksonville’s opioid crisis, as is the case around the country, is taking lives and resources from the budget all at once. Is a turning point imminent?

Months back, Councilman Bill Gulliford began sounding the alarm about the increased casualty rate and the increased burden on emergency services from the crisis.

Multiple meetings followed, then a bill was filed in June that would devote almost $1.5M to a pilot opioid program, to stem the tide of overdoses that is wreaking havoc with Jacksonville lives and emergency services budgets.

On Monday, Gulliford held a meeting with other stakeholders (including the Fire and Rescue Department), in which the particulars of the legislation (introduced on an emergency basis, with committee work this week) and the pilot program were discussed.

“I could think of a lot better things we could sit around and talk about spending $1.5M on,” Gulliford said.

However, the crisis is real. And current efforts are not abating it.

Overdoses, at last count, end four times as many lives as homicides in Duval County, with 2016’s count of 464 casualties more than doubling 2015’s count of 201.

Caucasians represent 86 percent of the deaths, and over half of those passing away are in their 30s and 40s

911 calls for ODs to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department have tripled, with a call every two hours now. Narcan administrations: up 500 percent. JFRD responded to over 3,411 calls in 2016, and the cost of transporting OD victims could near $4.5M this year.

Gulliford noted that the money for this may not come out of fund balance, as the Lenny Curry administration may have another source of money for this.

Also, DCF has advanced a preliminary offer to fund all the Narcan for the pilot program — another potential cost defraying mechanism.

Gateway and River Region would

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