Newberry will escalate the fight against opioid addiction in March with a five-member task force dedicated to solving the crisis.
While the Alachua County Health Promotion and Wellness Coalition does not have specific statistics on opioid addiction in Newberry, they claim nearly ten percent of middle and high school students have reported the abuse of prescription pain medication.
“The opioid epidemic is savage, and we need to get in the trenches and declare war on it,” said Newberry City Commissioner Joy Glanzer.
Glanzer’s concern for Newberry’s youth is personal, as she has a family member that has suffered from opioid addiction.
She thinks that one of the best ways to combat the crisis is to change the stigma around addiction.
Newberry Mayor and teacher at Newberry High School, Jordan Marlowe, has also felt the opioid crisis’ effects. One of his former students who was addicted to opioids took his own life.
Marlowe wants to see a wide range of people on the task force to combat the issue.
“It may be someone who dealt with addiction before and can help speak from a personal level. I think we also need experts. We need people that deal in health, mental health professions,” he said.
Applications to join the anti-opioid task force close on February 6.