As we close 2021, we feel the weight of what we know about the opioid crisis, but we also feel gratitude and hopeful for our work in the coming year.
We know that the U.S. exceeded 100,000 overdose deaths this year for the first time in history. That the number of people dying from overdoses is more than three times the overdose death rate in 2009.
We know that fentanyl is driving fatal overdoses. 2 of every 5 pills containing fentanyl has a deadly dose in some Florida counties – which means using recreational drugs right now is more deadly than Russian Roulette.
We are also filled with hope for the coming year. This hope originates with the incredible people that we have gotten to know over the past 9 months who are working on the frontlines of saving lives, protecting our communities, and providing care. This hope expands because of the many evidence-based, interlocking practices that are successful in saving lives and transitioning those with Opioid Use Disorder into recovery. Of course, there remain many opportunities to expand these evidence-based practices, to enlarge the behavioral health workforce, and to enhance the amount of consistent, flexible funding for treatment.
As we begin the new year, we look forward to forging new partnerships around these life-saving practices. We will be kicking off 2022 with a strategic planning session to use what we know as a foundation for crafting strategic priorities for the new year. We will be launching a new non-profit under the Tampa Bay Partnership to support the project opioid initiative to create better, healthier Tampa Bay communities where no one dies from addiction. And we will continue to collaborate with you and amplify the work and voices of our leaders and stakeholders committed to saving lives.
Here’s to a Bright New Year!
Executive Director, Project Opioid Tampa Bay