While the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated our lives since March 2020, another deadly crisis has emerged. The opioid epidemic is surging, exacerbated by the stress of job loss, threat of evictions and the consequences of stay-at-home policies. According to initial estimates, more than 1,200 people died of opioid-related deaths in Tampa Bay in 2020, a 36% increase over 2019.
With funding support from the Florida Blue Foundation, the Tampa Bay Partnership formed Project Opioid Tampa Bay in 2021 to mobilize business, philanthropic and faith leaders in our region around a singular mission: to reduce opioid deaths in our community.
Opioid addiction, and the resulting overdoses and deaths, has a profound impact on our region – most directly on law enforcement, healthcare, social services and workforce productivity. For each opioid addict, the lives of at least 5 to 10 family and friends have also been impacted. It’s very likely you’ve been touched personally by the opioid epidemic, whether you’re aware of it or not.
Our research shows that:
- Tampa Bay’s opioid overdose rate of 23.3 per 100,000 population is 9.75% higher than the State of Florida, and 50.5% higher than the nation.
- Nearly 3 people die every day in Tampa Bay from an opioid overdose, totaling 1,024 deaths in 2019.
- Experts estimate that the economic impact of the opioid epidemic on Tampa Bay is roughly $25 billion lost each year in gross regional product, and 35,000 workers sidelined from the labor force.
You can read our preliminary analysis of Tampa Bay’s opioid epidemic by downloading the report below:
A more detailed demographic and geographic analysis released in August 2021 further revealed that the growth of opioid overdose deaths in Tampa Bay is outpacing that of the state as a whole, particularly among Black residents.
You can read this report here:
Project Opioid Tampa Bay’s next phase of research will examine the state of intervention, prevention, and harm reduction initiatives throughout the region. By early 2022, we will develop a strategy to substantially reduce opioid deaths in our region, and we will move into the execution phase.
Project Opioid Tampa Bay honors the thousands of individuals working on the front lines in the battle to end this epidemic. Our efforts are intended to be collaborative, complementary and constructive, bringing new energy, new conversations and, ultimately, more resources to this effort.
Do you want to help save lives in Tampa Bay by reducing opioid overdoses and deaths?
For more information, please contact Jennifer Webb, Project Director, at [email protected].