Opioid informational sessions being held as epidemic takes toll on Central Florida

America’s opioid epidemic is sweeping across Orange County. At the Holden Heights Community Center they're talking about what the county can do to fight the epidemic. They’re holding special training and education classes all day Monday and Thursday.

Would you know how to reverse a heroin overdose? With overdoses and deaths from the drug and other opioids skyrocketing, Keith Raskin from Aspire Health said NARCAN [naloxone] is critical.

“It's integral to have this simply because it can override the effects of an overdose, and saves lives,” Raskin said.

NARCAN is a nasal spray you give to someone overdosing on opioids. People are getting NARCAN, and training on how to use it, at special training sessions.

“Yes, you can receive this if you show up today,” Raskin said, “we'll give you basic training. It takes about seven minutes, and you'll leave with one of these NARCAN kits.”

The Orange County Sheriff's Office says they've responded to 156 opioid overdoses since the start of the year and nine people so far have died from them. Numbers are even more staggering statewide. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says in 2016 there were 5,725 opioid-related deaths in Florida - a 35 percent increase over 2015. That includes 1,390 deaths from fentanyl - which is synthetic heroin. 

Donna Wyche, Mental Health and Homelessness Manager for Orange County, said it's important that people know the dangers of opioid abuse. “Not only the dangers around the drug itself and the use of the drug itself, but all of the things law enforcement faces when you're dealing with drugs on the street,” Wyche said.