Mother of Overdose Victim Helps State Lawmakers Fight Opioid Epidemic

by | Oct 23, 2017

Elizabeth Pine’s 32-year-old son, Bryce, was prescribed OxyContin to ease the pain from a minor injury.

He was prescribed 300 milligrams of the drug. His mother thought the dosage was too high for a simple injury.

Apparently, it was.

Bryce became addicted to the oxycontin and when the pills became too expensive, he turned to heroin. His mother said she thought she could “fix him.”

“The worst day of my life happened on May 9, 2015,” Pine says. “I took two steps in the room and there’s my baby, on the bed, dead. The needle still in the arm. My world stopped. My son would still be alive today if it weren’t for that prescription.”

Pine tells her son’s story in a video released by state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, who filed legislation Monday aimed at reducing opioid deaths and addiction in the state.

“This is the moment where we have to take strong action,” Benacquisto said in a news release issued by her office. “We will work hard to pass a bill that truly helps stem the tide of addiction to opiates, helps folks move towards recovery, and provides new helpful tools for doctors when prescribing these drugs.”

Benacquisto is one of the lawmakers who will sponsor proposals announced last month by Gov. Rick Scott to combat the opioid addiction epidemic in Florida.

Scott wants to limit access to opioids by placing the three-day limit on opioid prescriptions. A seven-day supply would be granted in cases where patients meet strict conditions.

His plan would also require all healthcare professionals that prescribe or dispense medication to  participate in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. That program, which was created by the Legislature in 2011 to deal with the state’s prescription drug abuse problem, monitors controlled substance prescriptions.

Scott has asked the Legislature for $50 million to fund substance abuse treatment, as well as counseling recovery services.

“Opioid abuse is a critical health and safety issue across our communities,” said President Joe Negron. “We are looking for measured steps to prevent future addiction, that balances the rights of patients and the knowledge and skill of physicians.”

The state’s Medical Examiners Commission estimates 5,300 Floridians died from opioid overdoses in 2016, up from 3,896 in 2015.




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