TALLAHASSEE, FL (October 30, 2019) – A new statewide alliance has formed to amplify the best practices being implemented at the community-level to address the challenges and needs of the state’s opioid and substance misuse epidemic.
The Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Florida will convene health care, business, law enforcement, veterans, rural, senior, Hispanic, faith-based, education, community, and drug prevention organizations to support effective prevention, education, treatment, and recovery programs through partnerships to reach Floridians in every corner of the state.
Data from the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics indicates Florida’s unintentional and undetermined drug overdose deaths more than doubled from 2014 to 2016 -- with 2,175 deaths in 2014 and 4,672 in 2016. Florida’s opioid overdose rate has tripled since the turn of the century according to Florida’s Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council 2016 Annual Report, and “there has been a substantial increase in deaths associated with fentanyl and heroin-related drug use.”
“The opioid epidemic is going to take a comprehensive approach that employs multiple strategies to create population-level reductions to this problem,” said General Arthur T. Dean, Chairman and CEO of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). "CADCA focuses on primary prevention and we hope our partnership with RALI Florida will be used as a model by other organizations and communities to enhance their local prevention efforts and increase community awareness on the dangers of substance misuse. Together we can build safe and healthy drug-free communities.”
This week, in partnership with the Code 3 Association, RALI Florida will bring the RALI CARES educational trailer to the Florida Chamber of Commerce Future of Florida Forum and a community roundtable on the opioid crisis in Lakeland in partnership with the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network. Both events aim to educate communities about the importance of prevention in addressing the opioid crisis. The RALI CARES educational trailer provides an interactive experience led by retired law enforcement. The trailer is set up like a typical teenager’s bedroom, but inside are dozens of hidden signs of substance misuse. Over the weekend, the RALI CARES educational trailer was at a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day event in Spring Hill in partnership with Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Hernando County Fire Rescue, and the Hernando Community Coalition.
“The resources RALI Florida has provided have already helped us reach Floridians in new ways,” said Linda McKinnon, President & CEO of the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network. “We’re engaging community members in important discussions, increasing awareness about this crisis, and discussing the role they can play in preventing dependency. We look forward to working with the RALI Florida partners to further amplify best practices to make an impact in each community.”
Moving forward, the alliance will also focus on raising awareness of, and providing tools for, the proper storage and disposal of prescription medications. One method for safely removing unused medicines from the home is at-home drug disposal kits. RALI Florida will provide drug disposal kits to partners and community organizations throughout the state to encourage proper disposal.
“Substance abuse affects families, businesses, and communities. Such a wide-reaching problem requires all of us to do our part,” said Julio Fuentes, President & CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Any business can play a role in combating the opioid crisis, and the business community as a whole must play a role. We are energized by the collaborative approach RALI Florida brings to fighting this epidemic because we know that no one group is going to solve this.”
“It’s imperative that we work collaboratively to combat substance abuse – and specifically opioid abuse in Florida,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “With a mission to provide valuable education and tools to residents, RALI Florida and its diverse group of partners will make a real impact across our state.”
In addition to educating Floridians on the proper use, storage, and disposal of medications, RALI Florida will offer community grants to local organizations dedicated to prevention, education, and treatment of substance use disorders.
To learn more about RALI Florida, visit rali-fl.org
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About RALI Florida: The Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Florida is an alliance of local, state, and national organizations committed to addressing the epidemic of substance misuse in the state through support for effective education, prevention, treatment and recovery programs. Partners include:
Central Florida Behavioral Health Network
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)
Florida Osteopathic Medical Association
Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Hernando Community Coalition
National Black Nurses Association
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
Tri-County Human Services
Veterans Against Drugs
Veterans Health Council
Vietnam Veterans of America