As we approach Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude. I am grateful for your support of the mission of Live Tampa Bay: to reduce the number of overdose deaths by 50% in 5 years. Over the past year, you have shown up to our webinars, invited your friends to our Luncheon, and advocated for our legislative priorities. You have participated in our leadership and stakeholder meetings, shared your own stories with courage and vulnerability, and added us to your corporate giving and employee monthly giving. Your support has helped us to grow our staff so we can better achieve our shared, singular ambition–to reduce the number of deaths from opioid overdoses.
You have stepped up as leaders who are dedicated to making an impact. There are no fast solutions to this complex problem. But there is evidence-based action, paired with solid resources and targeted interventions. This is the approach we have used as we strive to better understand the policy and funding shifts required to expand efforts across the state and to ensure that programs like the ones we are implementing are more-readily funded.
In the Tampa Bay region, we have finally begun to see a reduction in the number of deaths. July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022 marks the first time since 2017 the death rate has slowed its increase. This period also marks the first time we have seen any county reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths from one year to the next. Moreover, 4 of our 8 counties reduced the rate at which residents were dying from opioid overdose from the previous year. To break this down for you, this reduction in the death rate represents 258 lives saved. That’s 1 person saved every 17 hours. That’s 258 families saved from the heartbreak and horror of this epidemic.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful to each of you for helping to reduce the death rate in the Tampa Bay region and for your continuing commitment to saving even more lives.