- Florida State University received a $1.3 million federal grant on Friday to help target and research communities vulnerable to the ongoing opioid crisis
- The research project will target at-risk individuals in 168 rural counties across Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
- Researchers will also work in collaboration with Florida A&M University through a second, smaller funding award
- According to the Department of Health, Florida has surpassed 4,000 reported fatal overdose cases this year
Florida State University (FSU) received a $1.3 million federal grant on Friday to help combat the opioid crisis across eight southeastern states.
The two-year grant, funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will help subsidize FSU’s Center for the Study and Promotion of Communities, Families, and Children (CFC Center) and its research project targeting at-risk individuals in 168 rural counties across Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Researchers from the College of Social Work will collaborate on the study with Florida A&M University (FAMU) through a second, smaller funding award given to FAMU.
“These rural areas have been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. The overdose death rate for rural areas has surpassed the death rate for urban and suburban areas,” said Ellen Piekalkiewicz, director of the CFC Center and the project’s lead investigator.
According to the Department of Health, Florida has surpassed 4,000 reported fatal overdose cases this year, with the actual number likely much higher, as counties statewide continue to struggle with the introduction of counterfeit opioids.
In response, a range of state agencies has introduced initiatives to suppress the introduction of opioids into the state and make medical response access more accessible. Fentanyl in particular has raised concerns over the trajectory of the state’s overall illicit drug use and the dangers it poses.
Attorney General Ashley Moody last month led a national consortium of bipartisan Attorneys General, who collectively wrote to President Joe Biden to request a declaration of fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.
In the letter, the AGs declare that fentanyl is compounding the national mortality toll, which has climbed dramatically in recent years. The illicit substances were found to have been mostly manufactured in Mexico and trafficked across the border to hub cities like Atlanta before making their way to smaller cities and towns across the country.
Should the substance be deemed as such, it would require federal departments like the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department, and Pentagon to work in tandem to combat the opioid crisis, presumptuously expediting the already existing response efforts.