The Florida Supreme Court has proclaimed the month of September as Opioid and Stimulant Awareness Month. In efforts to help educate and promote awareness of the opioid epidemic our nation is facing, on Friday, September 29, 2023 the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit held an “Emerging Drug Trends” presentation at the St. Lucie County Courthouse. In attendance, were judges, attorneys, court staff and other judicial system partners learning more about the opioid epidemic and overdoses within our local communities.
Detective Cory Hulings from the Port St. Lucie Police Department Overdose Intervention and Diversion Division spoke about current drug trends and his unique role in the division educating and assisting overdose survivors with substance use treatment. Lieutenant Jonathan Fraga from the St. Lucie County Fire District and a Tactical Medic with the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team spoke about current drug trends and the lifesaving effects Narcan has on preventing overdose deaths. They also gave a brief overview of Narcan and a demonstration on how to administer it.
Justin Giovinazzo shared his struggle with the disease of addiction prior to becoming the Clinical Outreach Coordinator for Agape Treatment Center. He provided information on his current role and services available through Agape. He shared firsthand knowledge of the drug trends they are seeing with new admissions in their detox program.
The final guest speaker, Danny Collins, shared his own personal story with addiction and how he lost his MLB career with the Atlanta Braves due to his substance use. He is a current problem-solving court participant who travels the country advising prison re-entry and works full time building tiny homes out of shipping containers in efforts to provide affordable housing solutions to those in need. His story was heartwarming and truly inspiring.
Misuse and addiction to opioids and other stimulants continues to be a serious problem affecting the public health and safety for the people in our communities. The most significant thing we can do to address the issue as a whole is to become more aware of the problem and ways to help prevent it. The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit and its judicial partners are committed to working together to help address the issue associated with the opioid epidemic.