ORLANDO, Florida – Health officials say the coronavirus pandemic has created the biggest mental health, drug addiction and overdose crisis in U.S. history.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were nearly 94,000 overdose deaths across the country in 2020, including more than 7,500 in Florida, an increase of 29.4% and 37% from one year on the other, respectively.
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According to Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma, the driving force behind the surge in overdoses is fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.
“We are seeing fentanyl mixed with all types of substances, from marijuana to, in some cases, tobacco,” Lemma said. “A lot of people who take these drugs don’t realize that they are taking the higher dose fentanyl, and they die almost immediately after taking the drug.”
Lemma joined News 6 presenter Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly at ClickOrlando.com” to discuss his role on the National Opioid Abuse Task Force and how he works to deal with the crisis.
Due to the social stigma surrounding drug addiction, Seminole County leaders are hosting an overdose awareness event on Saturday, August 28 from 10 a.m. to noon at Reiter Park in Longwood.
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