Miami DEA educates FAU Davie campus on opioid abuse

Jonathon White and Dr. Justin Miller led a film panel and discussion on drug abuse.


FAU Interim Police Chief Sean Brammer warns college students about drug abuse before introducing DEA agents to the stage. Thomas Chiles | Contributing Writer

Thomas Chiles, Contributing Writer

On Thursday, FAU’s Davie campus received a visit from two Drug Enforcement Administration agents who gave a presentation on opioid addiction in South Florida.

DEA Miami Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Jonathon White and DEA Miami Field Intelligence Manager Dr. Justin Miller explained a new initiative in fighting opioid drug use called the 360 strategy.

The three-pronged strategy focuses on law enforcement, diversion control and community outreach.

“We’ve always done law enforcement and diversion control, but community outreach is something we are focusing on today,” White said.

Interim Chief of Police Sean Brammer welcomed the two Miami DEA agents to the stage and addressed local drug abuse problems.

“This is a crisis taking over Palm Beach County,” Chief Brammer said. “We started proactive training with officers of how to respond and notice the clues of an overdose.”

Opioid abuse is a rapidly growing problem not only in Florida but throughout the nation. In many cases, abusers have turned from expensive pharmaceutical drugs such as oxycodone to cheaper street drugs like heroin.

Many street level dealers cut and mix their drugs with dangerous alternative chemicals to increase their amount of product and sales.

“We are currently facing a drug crisis like we have never seen before,” Dr. Miller said. “We are confronted with new drugs, new buyers, and new markets. There are synthetic drugs that I’ve never seen before popping up on the streets.”

In 1999, a little over 6000 people were killed by opioid overdose in the United States while the most recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows over 30,000 deaths from opioids in 2015. This year, over 1.4 million people will misuse an opioid for the first time.

“Are we in more pain than we were back in 1999, or do we have a consumption problem?” Dr. Miller said. “We have a consumption problem.”

DEA Agents Dr. Justin Miller (left) and Jonathon White (right) educate FAU students on Davie campus about the dangers of opioid drug abuse on Thursday. Thomas Chiles | Contributing Writer

A documentary titled “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict” was produced by the FBI and DEA to show real life examples of how opiate drug abuse can lead to overdose and death.

The film showed seven cases of people with stable families, careers and futures whose lives were ruined by opiate drug addiction in one way or another. It showed that anybody can be susceptible to opiate drug abuse, not just the poor, or uneducated.

“Help us get the message out,” White said. “Justin and I can stand up here and talk about the problem but the seven individuals and their families who have lived through this crisis can tell the story much better than we can.”

White and Miller stressed the importance of community education on opiate drug abuse. The DEA is always looking out for violent gangs and drug cartels, but they can not intervene when a child overdoses from pills in the bathroom.

“Help us break the myths about these pills in Grandma and Grandpa’s medicine cabinets,” White said. “They are dangerous when they are not used properly. It is essentially synthetic heroin.”

“One of the most concerning dynamics of this crisis … is the unknown,” Dr. Miller said. “People don’t know what they are taking. For college campuses, it’s taking drugs, not realizing the dangers and not knowing what you are taking.”

Thomas Chiles is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @thomas_iv.