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Clay and Duval will launch state's new opioid recovery program

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Associated Press

Clay and Duval counties will be two of the first in Florida to implement a new state program to combat the opioid epidemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday announced expansion of the Coordinated Opioid Recovery program — or CORE — which he called the first of its type in the nation.

The program will provide an array of services, beyond emergency response, to help people beat opioid addiction. The services will include medical and mental health care, dental care, maternal care and social services, including career training, housing and food security.

The program was piloted in Palm Beach County for nearly two years and is expanding initially to Brevard, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Gulf, Manatee, Marion, Pasco and Volusia counties.

DeSantis announced the expanded program during a stop at the Space Coast Health Foundation in Rockledge, in Brevard County.

"Substance abuse can affect any family at any time, so from education to law enforcement to treatment we are going to make sure that Floridians can take advantage of this new addiction recovery model,” the governor said in a news release.

Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said, "This program is an applied, intensive application to managing addiction through powerful, effective practice that connects people to what they need to get out of the horrific cycle of addiction.”

Nearly 2,000 people have died of overdoses in Florida this year, the governor's office said. Both Clay and Duval counties have seen increasing numbers of deaths. Duval recorded more than 2,005 opioid-related overdoses in 2021.

CORE, the new program, will be coordinated through the Florida Department of Health, Department of Children and Families and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

DeSantis announced the appointment of Dr. Courtney Phillips as the first statewide director of opioid recovery. She is an adult psychologist who serves as director of behavioral health for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County.

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where, as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service and was recognized as a Pulitzer finalist for breaking news. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida, including positions at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the Tampa Bay Times and the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, where he directed regional coverage and later business news. He is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, where he was editor of the daily student newspaper. You can reach Randy at rroguski@wjct.org or on Twitter, @rroguski.