COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Law enforcement leaders and addiction specialists in Collier County say dozens of lives are being saved in the battle against the opioid crisis, thanks to increased federal funding. Collier was designated as a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area in 2017, and the extra money has made the life-saving drug Narcan available to many first responders.
"The more Narcan we can get in this community, the more likely we are to save lives," said Brenda Iliff, executive director of the Hazelden Betty Ford addiction treatment clinic in Naples.
"We've seen people that are currently alive that are totally in recovery, that were brought back because of Narcan," she added.
She said the opioid crisis has escalated in the past couple of decades, making overdoses more and more common.
"We don't have that risk as strong with alcohol, cocaine or meth," Iliff said. "But with opioids, it's so easy to overdose."
Since Collier received the HIDTA designation a year and a half ago, opioid overdose deaths have dropped drastically, according to the Collier County Sheriff's Office. In 2018, emergency crews in the county responded to 173 overdose calls, with 31 resulting in death. Narcan was deployed in 98 of those cases.
Since the beginning of 2019, they've responded to 59 overdoses, two of which were fatal. First responders used Narcan to resuscitate patients 46 times.
"The deployment of Narcan has already begun to show a reduction in the number of overdose deaths," said Sheriff Kevin Rambosk.