WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Local leaders are in Washington this week, looking for help in the battle against opioids.
“What can we be doing that’s more effective at the local level, that’s number one and then number two is what additional resources can we get from the federal government?” asked Christian Ziegler, a county commissioner from Florida.
Ziegler is a county commissioner from Sarasota, Florida, an area hit hard by pill pushing at the height of the opioid epidemic.
“It’s really important that we think of this as an addiction crisis,” said Jim Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Carroll spent Thursday meeting with officials like Ziegler.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this kind of outreach to the local level from a level of government above us,” Ziegler said.
Recent data shows overdose deaths dropped last year by 5-percent, the first time a decrease has happened in thirty years. Federal officials say that’s proof of success and say some states have done even better.
“Florida is about 6 and a half percent reduction,” Carroll said. “In Alabama, they’ve actually doubled the national average, at about 11 percent reduction.”
But data also shows an uptick in abuse of other drugs like meth, especially in rural areas. That’s another issue local agencies are concerned about.
“Some of these officials that we’re meeting with today are from some rural areas,” Carroll said. “They don’t get a lot of resources, they don’t get a lot of attention, and that’s why we’re meeting with them.”