Words by Smiley Team
Overdose numbers throughout the United States have been spiking since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, reaching record numbers in 2021. Some organizations are looking to put a dent into that.
Starting in 2018 the South Florida Wellness Network was established to provide resources and support to South Florida residents impacted by drug use and addiction.
“We’re big advocates, especially following the fentanyl test strip legislation,” South Florida Wellness Network CEO Susan Nyamora tells Smiley News. “We want to promote safe drug use habits, and promote harm reduction.”
Until recently the Network, primarily operated in the day distributing in “hot spots” distributed naloxone and provided other resources but that changed with the 2022 Spring Break crowd and one specific incident. “The West Point cadets brought a huge light to it,” says Nyamora.
What she’s referencing is how four West Point cadets recently passed away from a fentanyl overdose. As a result, the South Florida Wellness Network took to the streets and started passing out naloxone to Spring Break party-goers.
A group of 13 Network staff, mostly in recovery themselves spent their weekend talking to Spring Breakers informing them of the dangers of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, and passing out Narcan, the nasal spray to deliver naloxone, an overdose medication.
The group donned matching shirts that read, “Test your supply, before you get high” on the back, as well as Mardi Gras-style beads and flashing neon bracelets to attract attention.
Fentanyl is about 80-100 times stronger than morphine and about 50 times stronger than heroin and many of the overdoses are attributed to ignorance when users thought they were taking another drug.
“We’ve taken an aggressive, assertive approach for those visiting,” says Nyamora.
They plan on educating bars and restaurants on what an overdose looks like, what to look for, and even what to do in case someone starts having an overdose.
“We’re going to be educating restaurants and bars and giving them Narcan as well,” says Nyamora.
FIND OUT MORE: For more information on the charity support, call 954-234-2177
DONATE: You can donate to the South Florida Wellness Network.