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Reporter Tracks Opioid Crisis & South Florida's 'Recovery Industry' Corruption

Peter Haden / WLRN
Delray Beach Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Ed Beardsley (center) and firefighter-paramedics treat a woman overdosing on heroin in Delray Beach on May 19,2017. Neighbors say a car pulled up to a stop sign, pushed the woman out and drove away.

An opioid overdose is an alarmingly frequent call for paramedics and firefighters in South Florida. But according to WLRN reporter Peter Haden, many of those victims came from outside the state to seek treatment for their addiction. With relapses topping 80 percent, many who arrive seeking help today can become tomorrow's overdose victim.

Haden joins Gulf Coast Live sharing stories from his reporting on South Florida's opioid epidemic, which claimed over 1,000 lives in 2015 alone. His reporting ranges from town halls demanding solutions, to back-to-back overdose calls in Delray Beach from "tourists" seeking treatment, to charges related to fraud, money laundering, and more within the South Florida recovery industry.

He'll also share a recent story covering the complicated and controversial ways drug dealers can be charged with murder after an overdose occurs.

Also joining the program is Rev. Vann Ellison, president and CEO of St. Matthew's House, sharing his insights from more than 30 years working in opioid and addiction treatment in Southwest Florida.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
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