Duval County leads Florida with highest number of fentanyl deaths per capita

Duval leads state in fentanyl overdoses

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new report shows people are dying more frequently from fentanyl in Duval County than in any other county in the state – an indication of how hard the opioid crisis is hitting Northeast Florida.

The report from Florida’s Medical Examiners shows dramatic increases in all types of drug-related deaths.

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“It’s a loss you never get over, ever,” said Candace Davis, who lost her 24-year-old son, Jeremy, to heroin.

“His life with heroin was not even six months to a year. He was on heroin and he was gone,” she said.

Almost three years later, Davis' pain is still visible.

“They say the pain gets easier, but when it’s your child, the pain never gets easier,” Davis said.

According to the report, there were nearly 12,000 drug-related deaths in Florida in 2016 – that’s six times the number of deaths the year before. Deaths caused by fentanyl increased by 97 percent.

Even more troubling, deaths related to all kinds of drugs – prescription drugs, such as oxycodone and street drugs, like heroin and cocaine, and alcohol – were on the rise. Locally, it’s as bad here as it is anywhere in the state. Duval County is in the red for the highest number of fentanyl deaths per capita.

“My son is gone, I can’t ever bring him back,” Davis said.

But Davis said she’s working toward her master’s degree so she can help others with addiction.

“If we can share our story and save just one other child, or one parent from going through this heartbreak, it will be worth it,” Davis said.