Since first taking office in 2011, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has lead the charge on removing illicit drugs from the streets of Florida.Bondi launched her efforts with the penning of an executive order outlawing the destructive chemical MDPV or “bath salts” and has worked with Republican-led Florida legislature to outlaw over 136 individual chemical compounds. With the consideration of Bondi for U.S. Drug Czar by President-elect Donald Trump, Bondi is setting her sights even higher.
As the first lawmaker in Florida to identify the burgeoning pill mill and associated heroin epidemic, Bondi filed bill HB7095 and successfully shut down the clinics flooding the streets with illegally diverted prescription drugs.
Having curbed the supply of these drugs, Bondi knew that the next step was ensuring that effective rehabilitation is in place to continue to reduce demand as addicts heal from their addiction and resume healthy living.
One growing problem that stems from drug addiction is the issue of drug rehabilitation centers and “recovery homes” taking advantage of those individuals who have entrusted them with their recovery.
While the overwhelming majority of rehabilitation centers and recovery homes are looking out for the best interest of the patient, there are a few that prey upon the those who are the weakest by using their services as way to make a buck.
“We in Florida witnessed an unprecedented rise in access and usage of prescription drugs through pill mills. Upon closing these mills, we saw addicted users switch from pills to street heroin and increase in overdoses and deaths as dealers aim to capitalize on this new market by lacing the Heroin with even more potent additives like Fentanyl and Carfentanyl. Now, in order to save lives, we must focus on providing those addicted with effective treatment.”-Attorney General Pam Bondi for The Shark Tank
Bondi recently spoke to the Shark Tank about her ongoing efforts to eradicate illicit drugs, and gave an update on how some drug treatment and “recovery homes” have been skirting the law.
Bondi said that her office was “actively involved in the sober home issue,” adding that she recently travelled to Washington, D.C. and met with the other state Attorney Generals to discuss the growing “drug epidemic within our country.”
Bondi spoke out against those few facilities that are taking advantage of the most “vulnerable,” and that “the most vulnerable people who truly need treatment, in fact they are not giving them treatment they are getting them further addicted to drugs, which is really the worse of the worse.”
Bondi continued, pointing out that while most of the drug rehabilitation centers are doing God’s work in helping individuals get the treatment they seek and need, there are still some “bad ones” that bring disgrace to the greater cause and profession.
“Just know that we have very good drug treatment facilities throughout our state, and you its sad when just a few bad ones scare people from going into the treatment that they desperately need.”-AG Pam Bondi
Bondi recently created a Florida state task force to do just this. Under the direction of Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, a team of healthcare experts was assembled to set new standards for rehabilitation services as a crucial first step towards positioning Florida as the national leader in the true war against addiction.
During a sit-down interview with The Shark Tank, Aronberg stated, “people are dying because of this abuse,” adding that they are also “irreparably” damaging being done to communities.
In response to our email request for comment on this ongoing issue, Aronberg sent over these remarks:
“We created this task force to recommend a set of standards for drug rehabilitation services, as well as sober homes housing vulnerable patients in intensive treatment with those providers. By setting these standards and eliminating the bad actors this will ensure that all those who seek help with their addiction will receive an effective continuum of care.”
“At the end of the day, these are human lives on the line and we are dealing with death in epic proportions. This issue will remain a top priority for this office as it should be a top priority for Tallahassee. We won’t stop until there is a sustainable system in place for the protection of vulnerable Floridians from abuse and exploitation.”
Task Force member and COO of the Mandala Healing Center Peter Walstrom said praised the work Bondi and Aronberg were doing to assist individuals who so desperately need and seek care.
“Never before has the need for effective drug treatment been greater, and I applaud Pam Bondi and Dave Aronberg for both legitimizing the needs of those suffering from addiction, as well as the quality of the care available to them.”
While the job is long from over, people like Bondi, Aronberg, and the members of his task force are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect Floridians, and provide an answer to the addiction epidemic throughout Florida and the US.