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Chief Justice Muñiz proclaims September Opioids and Stimulants Awareness Month

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Florida courtsSubstance use disorders and overdoses resulting from the use and misuse of opioids and stimulants are taking an enormous toll on the lives of millions across the state and nation. The surge in drug overdoses and overdose deaths from opioids and stimulants has resulted in an urgent public health crisis, with over 150 people dying every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

For these reasons, Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz signed a proclamation stating, “September 2023 shall be known within the State Courts System as a month of awareness, training, and action regarding opioids, stimulants, and substance use disorder treatment and recovery.”

Throughout September, circuit courts will undertake awareness-raising activities as supported by appointed “Circuit Champions” – judges and court staff designated as local leaders on these matters. In addition, the Office of the State Courts Administrator will continue to sponsor a statewide program on such needs.

The opioid epidemic has been exacerbated by increased access to and use of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the Office of the State Courts Administrator. An alarming drug trend also is occurring in the use of xylazine, an animal tranquilizer, as an alternative drug. Xylazine, also called Tranq, is used to enhance the effect of certain drugs and is known for its flesh-eating effects that can require the amputation of limbs.

Unintentional polysubstance use is likewise occurring where drugs are mixed or cut with other substances, like fentanyl and xylazine, without the knowledge of affected individuals, the results of which can be fatal, according to OSCA.

Mental health issues are a further concern and may result from the use of certain drugs, like synthetic forms of methamphetamines such as P2P Meth. Dual diagnoses of substance use disorders and mental illness are increasingly occurring as well.

OSCA said treatment courts play an important role in addressing these issues, and the collaboration and continued development of partnerships between the justice system and other stakeholders are vital to success.

A copy of the awareness month proclamation and other related resources are available on the OSCA website.

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