‘It is not getting better’: Pensacola’s Lakeview Center sees more people seeking help for opioid addiction

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Addiction treatment professionals say opioid abuse has been escalating in Escambia County, Fla., in the past two years.

“It is getting worse,” Sandra Crawford said. “It is not getting better.”

Crawford is a director of addiction treatment at Lakeview Center, a Baptist Health facility, in Pensacola. She helps people who are addicted to pain pills and says the opioid crisis during the pandemic has caused more people to come through their doors seeking help.

“The past couple of years have been exceptionally challenging because COVID has created a lot of factors,” Crawford said. “It has made folks feel in a lot of ways more isolated, created some more depression, more stress, creating financial hardships.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says the problem is growing in part because of “pill mills” like the Wilson Family Medical Center on University Parkway. Officials say it looked nothing like a doctor’s office inside. Patients would go there and never see a doctor but would walk away with thousands of pills.

Dr. William Wilson, his wife Beverly, and their son James have all been arrested. Investigators said one of their patients received 20,000 pills over several years.

FDLE talked about one of their patients in a news conference Tuesday.

“He received a prescription for oxycodone and on the following day, he died of an oxycodone overdose,” FDLE Special Agent In Charge Chris Williams said.

Crawford encourages everyone to be familiar with Narcan because it can save a life right after someone overdoses.

“We make that available to folks… make it available to family members,” Crawford said. “I can’t tell you how many people have come into treatment and said they were still alive and with us because someone had Narcan because that was available.”

The Lakeview Center has a 24-hour mobile response team. If you need help with addiction or depression, you can call them at 866-517-7766. You can visit the center’s website to learn more about the types of treatment services they provide.

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