Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Requests Federal Anti-Drug Aid for Manatee County

Jul 25, 2016
Press Release
Spike in Heroin Deaths Deserves Federal Attention

Manatee County Epicenter of State’s Heroin Crisis

WASHINGTON — Citing a new surge of heroin-related overdoses in his congressional district, Congressman Vern Buchanan today asked top federal officials for immediate aid to help confront the deadly health crisis.

In a letter sent this morning to National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Buchanan requested funding under a sweeping new anti-drug bill passed this month by Congress.

Manatee County is the epicenter of Florida’s heroin crisis, recording more heroin-related deaths per capita than any of the other 66 counties in 2014. Over the last several months, the number of overdose-related calls to law enforcement doubled, from between 5 and 10 calls a month to 19 a month. Most are heroin-related, according to the Bradenton Herald.

The new anti-drug bill co-sponsored by Buchanan includes “enhancement grants” designed to help communities suffering from drug abuse spikes involving heroin, prescription drugs or methamphetamine. The bill was signed into law by President Obama on Friday.

“Federal funds will provide critical support for our local health care providers and law enforcement officials who are on the front lines of fighting this outbreak,” Buchanan said in his letter. “With these resources, addiction treatment centers, law enforcement agencies, and medical professionals can expand their efforts to help treat those already addicted and address the flow of opioids and heroin flowing into Manatee County.”

Buchanan recently chaired a congressional panel that highlighted heroin’s devastating impact on children and the child welfare system.

“The heroin epidemic has inflicted tremendous pain and suffering to countless children of drug-addicted parents,” Buchanan wrote. “Drug abuse among parents is a major reason why so many children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care.”

Buchanan is scheduled to visit Tuesday the Manatee County Safe Children Coalition, where he will discuss the new anti-drug bill and hear from community leaders about child safety.

Full text of the letter: 

July 25, 2016

The Honorable Sylvia Matthews Burwell
Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, D.C. 20201

The Honorable Michael Botticelli
Director
Office of National Drug Control Policy

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 

 

Dear Secretary Burwell and Director Botticelli:

Now that the President has signed landmark legislation to curb drug abuse, I write to request that you direct immediate funding under the bill to Manatee County, Fla., the epicenter of this deadly health crisis in my home state of Florida.  

The legislation includes “enhancement grants” aimed at helping communities suffering from drug abuse spikes involving heroin, prescription drugs or methamphetamine. Sadly, Manatee County, which I represent, has experienced a surge in heroin overdoses over the past several months.

The situation in Florida is grim – heroin overdose deaths have increased 900 percent from 2010 to 2014. Manatee County had more heroin-related deaths per capita than any of the other 66 counties in Florida in 2014. Over the last several months, the number of overdose-related calls to law enforcement doubled, from between 5 and 10 calls a month to 19 a month. Most are heroin-related, according to the Bradenton Herald.

But the horrific number of fatalities is only one part of the picture. The heroin epidemic has inflicted physical and mental harm to countless children of drug-addicted parents. In fact, drug abuse among parents is a major reason why so many children are placed in foster care.

Federal funds will provide critical support for our local health care providers and law enforcement officials who are on the front lines of fighting this outbreak. With these resources addiction treatment centers, law enforcement agencies, and medical professionals can expand their efforts to prevent opioid abuse, treat those already addicted, and blunt the flow of opioids and heroin flowing into Manatee County.

Stemming this crisis is an urgent public health issue. We must act swiftly to stop this epidemic because each day we delay more families are put at risk. I thank you in advance for your consideration of my request.

 

Sincerely,

Issues: