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Early Signs Of Success For Jacksonville’s Opioid Addiction Treatment Pilot

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Of the drug-overdose victims who have participated in a Jacksonville pilot program, almost none have relapsed, according to a report presented to City Council Tuesday.

The six month hospital-based program began in November.

New estimates from City Council suggest at least one person dies of an opioid overdose every day. Dr. Raymond Pomm is running what he calls Project Save Lives in partnership with St. Vincent’s Riverside. The city-funded, $1.5 million program is meant to get overdose victims directly from the ER into treatment.

Pomm said 30 patients are currently being served, including 11 in recovery centers.

“Everyone that’s been engaged in our program, of everyone that’s been engaged in our program, we’ve had only one person have another overdose,” he said. “And our goal was to reduce overdoses, recidivism and death. We’ve had no one die. That to me is a phenomenal success.”

Pomm said he’s working on expanding his team of specialists and is constantly updating their training to include treatments such as craving-controlling drugs like buprenorphine to help manage withdrawal.

He said even though the program has only been going for a couple of months, he’s looking at expanding it to St. Vincent’s campuses on the Southside and in Clay County.

“We’ll be able to see what greater numbers look like, how it’s impacting the processes, we’ll continue meeting weekly to try and vet that and try and tweak it to the point that when it’s ready to expand it to the community, we’ll have most of the answers, at least for a good start,” he said.

Meanwhile, lawyers representing the city in a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers told city council members they should have it filed by the end of the month.

Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.