Trump’s opioid commission could bring relief to South Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Trump’s opioid commission could bring relief to South Florida

President Donald Trump on Wednesday created a federal commission tasked with combating the opioid addiction crisis that has led to an increase in overdoses across the country, including hundreds in South Florida alone last year.

Trump tapped New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead the federal opioid commission after promising on the campaign trail to fight what he called an epidemic.

“Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in our country,” Trump said, “and we wanna help those who have become so badly addicted.”

The Broward House, a social services organization, said they’ve seen a rise in opioid use and deaths from overdose recently.

“Last year there was over 800 deaths in South Florida,” said Stacey Hyde, the president of Broward House.

RELATED: Trump, Christie pledge to combat nation’s opioid addiction 

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes the illegal drug heroin and powerful prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, vicodin, codeine, morphine and fentanyl.

People are often prescribed the highly addictive drugs and then move on to heroin when the pills run out.

“We have a lot of individuals who have chronic pain, so they are prescribed medications,” Hyde said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions highlighted the increasing availability of the illegal drug.

“With regard to heroin, we’ve got more availability, lower prices and much higher purity — that creates addiction,” Sessions said.

South Florida medical examiners see at least five opioid overdoses a day and sometimes up to 10.

“We are at the forefront,” Hyde said, “whether it’s in our community at the local, Broward County level, the state level and then looking at the national level. That we have involvement at all levels will be when real change happens.”

Christie and Trump welcomed recovering addicts, family members of overdose victims, law enforcement chiefs and advocates at Wednesday’s roundtable announcing the commission.

“Addiction is a disease,” Christie said Wednesday, “and it is a disease that can be treated.”

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