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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Bilirakis Helps Bring $125,000 to Pasco for Combating Addiction

August 30, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC:  As we prepare to recognize International Overdose Awareness Day tomorrow, Congressman Gus Bilirakis is pleased to announce the success of his recent efforts to increase funding for the Drug Free Communities program, and that his advocacy on behalf of a local Drug Prevention Coalition’s application for continued federal funding helped secure $125,000 for Pasco County.  These dollars, allocated to the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP), will be used to support coordinated efforts to address addiction in the community, with a targeted emphasis on prevention among youth.  As one strategy in a comprehensive response to the public health crisis created by addiction, Congressman Bilirakis supported an increase to the Drug Free Communities program in this year’s budget.  In total, $90.9 million were allocated to drug prevention coalitions across the nation this week.  These dollars provide local community coalitions with resources to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.  The coalitions also work toward supporting systemic support for all those suffering from addiction and their families.

Addiction has ravaged the lives of millions of Americans and their families.  Locally, we’ve witnessed the devastating toll and loss of life it has caused.  I have visited ASAP on multiple occasions to obtain feedback about how we can support its efforts and to seek help identifying unmet needs. I’ve been impressed by the passion and knowledge displayed by its members, as well as, their ideas for proposed public policy changes.  On a recent visit some members gave me ideas about how sober living homes can be improved.  My legislation to create standards for sober living homes recently passed the House.  This is just one example of how ASAP’s input has helped shape public policy initiatives.  The stories shared by the organization’s youngest members were particularly powerful.  It is obvious that lives are being changed through education, prevention and improved access to treatment.   Because of its positive impact within our community, I was pleased to support ASAP’s application for continued federal funding,” said Congressman Bilirakis.     

Pasco County’s robust federally-funded Drug Free Communities program, ASAP, is a coalition that consists of former addicts, family members of people who abuse drugs, youth leaders, substance abuse treatment providers, medical professionals, law enforcement, educators, public health officials and concerned citizens.  The Drug Free Communities program has a national and local proven track record of success.  Since the program’s inception, the past 30-day prevalence of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and prescription drug misuse has declined significantly among middle school and high school aged youth in communities that are funded through this grant.  ASAP has had similar progress on this metric.  In 2016, the number of middle school students in Pasco county reporting alcohol use was cut by 2/5ths and the same measure for high school students decreased by 25%.  Additionally, the number of high school students in Pasco reporting use of a prescription pain pills decreased from 12.4% to 7.8% in 2016.  These results are a direct result of targeted interventions and strategies used by ASAP.