August 23, 2020
By: Staff Report
PASCO COUNTY, Fla. – Sheriff Chris Nocco has ramped up resources and messaging for those dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues.
“It’s okay not to be okay. That’s what we say to our own members within the organization. I want to share that with you. It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not okay not to get help. If you need help, it’s not a sign of weakness.” said Sheriff Nocco.
Mental health and substance abuse issues have been exacerbated because of the stressors from the COVID-19 tidal wave. Job loss, fear, people losing their businesses, and others facing eviction or foreclosure.
“I can tell you compared to last year in 2019 to 2020 at this time we were seeing like a four to five hundred percent amount of overdoses. We’re seeing a large increase in amount of people that are dying because of overdoses,” said Sheriff Nocco.
Data from the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics indicates Florida’s unintentional and undetermined drug overdose deaths more than doubled from 2014 to 2016, with 2,175 deaths in 2014, 2,805 in 2015, and 4,672 in 2016. Furthermore, Florida’s opioid overdose rate has tripled since the turn of the century according to Florida’s Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council 2016 Annual Report, and “there has been a substantial increase in deaths associated with fentanyl and heroin-related drug use.”
Sheriff Nocco said in a video briefing, “Unfortunately in the months of May and June, we had 258 overdoses. In May and June, of the 258 overdoses, 55 of those overdoses were fatal. 55 families lost somebody in our community because of overdoses.”
“Our narcotics unit, along with federal agents, are working to get those drug dealers and drug traffickers out of our community,” said Sheriff Nocco.
Sheriff Nocco added, “Mental health and substance abuse are continual issues in our community, that impact the role of law enforcement officers. We are aiming, through these resources, and our Behavioral Health Intervention Team, to address these community issues.”
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has a wealth of resources for the community to turn to. The ‘Community-Based Resource’ website, offers solutions and help for mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, suicide, autism, veterans, and youth and family services.
If you need help, resources are available. Please visit https://pascosheriff.com/MENTALHEALTH.html to find the resources you need.