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Drug money now treating addiction

Posted on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Christian
Staff Writer
Nearly $30,000 in confiscated drug money will now benefit three local addiction treatment programs.
The Osceola County Investigative Bureau (OCIB) – a collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Office,

News-Gazette Photo/Rachel Christian
At a press conference on Friday, three local drug treatment facilities were presented checks for nearly $30,000 in seized drug money to help treat addiction.

the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office, and Kissimmee and St. Cloud police departments – launched a Charitable Giving program Feb. 9 in an effort to fight opioid addiction.
“It’s not a unique problem we’re facing with the opioid crisis.” said Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson. “We have to support organizations and treatment centers that work toward helping our citizens to recover from such drug abuse.”
Gibson said seized narcotic money has been used for years to pay for new law enforcement tools and technology.
A portion of OCIB money has always been given to charitable causes, but the new initiative is the first coordinated approach to support charities that offer drug treatment.
OCIB selected Park Place Behavioral Health Care, the Transition House and Aspire Health Services as its three nonprofit recipients. The organizations received roughly $10,000 each to fund addiction treatment programs.
OCIB funds were used in September to purchase 500 doses of Narcan, a life-saving opioid anecdote. The medication was purchased for $8,300, and has been used 26 times in the last five months, saving 20 lives.
“If we can help it, we don’t want the taxpayers to have to pay for that,” Gibson said after the press conference. “We’re using money from drug dealers to save lives and get people help.”
Michael Harris, head of substance abuse programs at Park Place, said the $10,000 grant would be used to provide Vivatrol, an opioid-blocking treatment medication, to a number of patients at no cost.
“Through a different program, we can receive Vivatrol at no cost if we can show we have the counseling services to go along with it,” Harris said. “This additional funding will help us provide that counseling.”
OCIB’s Charitable Giving initiative is a three-year grant program. Robert Holborn, general counsel for the Sheriff’s Office, said OCIB has set aside $60,000 for the next two years, and will assess the program’s effectiveness after that time.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in 2016 there were over 5,700 opioid-related deaths in the state, a 35 percent increase over the year before.