An Organized Response to Crisis
Ravaged by opioid overdose deaths that reached a peak in 2017, Palm Beach County was characterized as the epi-center of the opioid epidemic in Florida. In addition, it held the unfortunate distinction of being viewed nationally as the epi-center of fraud and abuse in the treatment and sober homes industry.
By the spring of 2017, the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners (BCC) adopted a plan, (Opioid Crisis: Palm Beach County's Response) now referred to as the OPR, or Opioid Response Plan. The plan pointed to the need for a coordinated response to the epidemic through the designation of a primary entity responsible for the integration of all efforts relative to the epidemic. The resulting entity would have the potential to mitigate fraud and abuse as well as to prevent deaths cause by overdose and substance use.
In July of 2018, the plan was introduced to the public during a Mayor's Forum event titled "Taking Action Against the Opioid Epidemic and Other Substance Use Disorders. You can view recordings of the forum here and here.
The Office of Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorders (OBHSUD)
In 2019, the BCC identified the opioid epidemic, substance use and behavior disorder as a high strategic priority. As a result, the Community Services Department operationalized an Opioid Response Steering Committee.
By 2021, the steering committee was officially renamed Behavioral Health, Substance Use and Co-Occurring Disorder Steering Committee in order to better align with the BCC's strategic priority that encompasses both behavioral health and substance use disorders.
Additionally, the Department operationalized an Office of Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorders (OBHSUD) to assume responsibility for all the Department's behavioral health contracts as well as to work alongside the Steering Committee to review and update the ORP.
In March 2022, the Steering Committee approved Substance Use and Mental Disorders Plan Update. The BCC approved the Plan in November 2022.