The opioid epidemic continues to be front and center nationwide, but it has also become a major problem in Manatee County. 

  • Drug Free Manatee opens training sessions to residents
  • Seminars meant to curb opioid abuse in Manatee
  • First seminar held tonight @ 6:30 p.m.  

Opioid abuse affects hundreds of thousands of people and kills nearly a hundred people every day. Manatee County has become one of the worst counties in the state for opioid abuse. 

Now, Drug Free Manatee is hoping to change that. They are hosting their first training sessions for residents this week to teach people about the drug naloxone, which is used to reverse opioid overdose. The drug is now available over the counter at most pharmacies. 

The training sessions are meant to save lives, and the first is being held tonight at West Bradenton Baptist Church. 

Pastor Raul Hernandez at West Bradenton Church said he's had enough. He's seen first hand the effects of opioid addiction, so when Drug Free Manatee came to him about hosting one of the naxolone seminars at his church, he immediately agreed. 

"We're tired of reading about it, we're tired of seeing the effects. We just want to get out there and make a difference in people's lives," he said. 

The seminars were originally meant for first responders and medical professionals, but because of the need, Drug Free Manatee said it opened the meetings up to the community too. 

Merab Favorite with Drug Free Manatee said, "It's scary because there are people that they know their family members are addicted or they're taking a lot of opioids and the threat of accidentally overdosing is very scary to many people." 

Pastor Hernandez said the seminar is just the beginning, and the battle against opioid addiction is one they'll continue fighting. 

"We just want to help, that's why we're here. We're not looking to judge or put anyone down, we are here for you and we're going to help you through the steps and we'll do whatever it takes to help you get on the right track," Hernandez said. 

Thursday night's seminar starts at 6:30 p.m. at 1305 43rd St W, Bradenton. Another seminar will be held Friday morning at 10 a.m. at the Manatee County Public Library. 

For more information on Drug Free Manatee and the seminar schedule, click here