Uniting to Combat Addiction in Northwest Florida – Part 1

The opioid crisis you hear about on the news is not just a national epidemic. According to a 2017 Pensacola News Journal story, there were more opioid prescriptions in Escambia County in 2016 than people, based on federal estimates. The opioid crisis has found its way to our doorstep in Northwest Florida. To address the community needs, Ministry Village at Olive is excited to announce the beginning of a new special project in partnership with the United Way of Escambia County and AmeriCorps VISTA program.

Beginning July 2018, A.J. Robey will be serving as the AmeriCorps VISTA Opioid Task Force Specialist for Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. Ministry Village at Olive is proud to serve as A.J.’s host site for this special one-year project, sponsored by the United Way of Escambia County.

The objective of the Opioid Task Force Specialist is to build a community opioid task force to help reduce opioid and heroin addiction, prevent overdose deaths, prevent and reduce substance misuse, and improve the quality of life in our community. Sadly, the need for this task force is growing. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the national number of drug overdose deaths has never been higher, and the majority of these deaths, (66% in 2016) involved opioids. 40% of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

According to the CDC, opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain and include prescription opioids (oxycodone/OxyContin, hydrocodone/Vicodin, morphine and methadone), fentanyl (a synthetic opioid only approved for treating severe pain and often illegally made and distributed), and heroin (an illegal opioid whose use is on the rise across all income levels and most age groups). The CDC reported that in 2015, the amount of opioids prescribed in America was enough for everyone in the country to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.

While many people would shy away from what seems to be such an overwhelming and alarming task, A.J. Robey’s enthusiasm and earnest passion for the mission before him is unmistakable. In next week’s Ministry Village blog, learn more about A.J., what makes him so compassionate for individuals and families struggling with addiction, and why he is eager to tackle the opioid epidemic in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.

Watch for updates on A.J.’s work as the Opioid Task Force Specialist by following the Ministry Village at Olive Facebook page.

What is an Americorps VISTA? VISTA stands for Volunteers In Service To America. AmeriCorps VISTA is a program of CNCS (Corporation for National and Community Service), the federal agency that improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. AmeriCorps VISTA members focus on building sustainable programs, and strengthen and support organizations by building infrastructure, expanding community partnerships, and securing long-term resources. The AmeriCorps VISTA program provides a living allowance based on poverty rates for a single individual in the VISTA’s geographic area of service.

United Way of Escambia County is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that unites agencies, businesses, organizations, faith-based groups, government, and individuals to fight for the health, education, and financial stability for everyone in Escambia County. United Way improves lives and builds a strong, healthy community by strategically investing in quality programs, building partnerships, advocating for better policies, engaging people in the community, and leveraging resources, and measures success not by dollars raised, but by lives improved and changed.

Uniting to Combat Addiction

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