ORLANDO, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis joined Central Florida business and faith leaders Tuesday to kick off an effort to combat the opioid epidemic.

  • Project Opioid aims to recruit churches, businesses in epidemic battle
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis joined Central Florida leaders for discussion
  • Group wants to reduce opioid addiction, deaths in Orlando area

Project Opioid founder Andrae Bailey says that until now, hospitals and law enforcement have been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. But the group hopes to expand that frontline to businesses and churches.

“The place you worship and the place that you work can be the place where you can get help if you're struggling with opioids,” Bailey said.

Community leaders came together at the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando for a meeting called "Hope for the Opioid Crisis."

Florida Blue is among the businesses helping to do their part.

“We eliminated OxyContin, which is the most addictive of the opioid class, so in the last year, we've seen the reduction of almost 50 percent use of opioids. That's very significant,” Florida Blue CEO Patrick Geraghty said.

The goal of Project Opioid is to reduce opioid abuse and the death toll from overdoses.

“I think the fact that you have all hands on deck in the community tells me that we have a shot to make an impact here,” DeSantis said.

For more information, go to Project Opioid's website.