TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Walgreens is on trial for the Florida opioid crisis as opening statements began Monday at the Pasco County Court House.
As Walgreens and the state battle it out in court, it’s sparking conversations within the rehabilitation communities.
“I say better late than never. I’m really happy to see that there’s some sort of accountability,” John Templeton Jr, founder of Footprints Beachside Recovery.
Templeton said large pharmaceutical companies should bear the weight of this out-of-control opioid crisis and believes whatever comes from the lawsuit between Walgreens and the state will not make up for the many lives destroyed and lost to addiction.
“It was criminal from the start when these pharmaceuticals started prescribing these ridiculously potent, addictive opioids misrepresenting their addictive qualities… I think any sort of accountability sends a message to others that we’re fighting against this.”
This current crisis is only growing every day. The opioid epidemic is linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the US over the past two decades.
Kirk Kirkpatrick is the CEO of Riverside Recovery of Tampa but is also a recovering addict. He told 8 On Your Side when addiction hits, it hits hard.
“I had a drinking and drug issue and the pain pills sort of got me… I spun around for a long time until I asked for help,” Kirkpatrick said.
He said he hopes smaller recovery programs and non-profits are first in line if there’s a financial settlement from this lawsuit.
“I think the number one thing is that it helps with the stigma of addiction and people can get the help that they need,” said Kirkpatrick.
Tampa Bay’s overdose rate is 50 percent higher than the nation’s, according to Project Opioid Tampa Bay.