Dr. Gary Martin discusses the opioid epidemic in Palm Beach County-Florida. He is a Former Detective for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in the Department of Violent Crimes. He is the Dean of Students at Lynn University and one of the founders of the NOPE Task Force, the Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education, headquartered Palm Beach County. Dr. Martin has over 28 years of experience investigating narcotics related cases.
For the past 10 years, He has specifically worked with overdose deaths. Greg asks Dr. Martin the origins of the opioid epidemic in Boca Raton. “At the turn of the century there was a wave of opioids that came into our community. At the time it was by way of physicians prescribing a drug, specifically oxycodone, to patients,” says Dr. Martin. “Oxycodone really took a toll on our community. Palm Beach County was essentially the headquarters in the country for this phenomenon. People were coming here from all over the nation to get their prescription.”
Dr. Martin goes on to explain how he founded NOPE after he realized that law enforcement was not preventing overdose deaths from opioid addiction. “There was previously not a great deal of scrutiny dedicated to these cases. We designed the Overdose Suppression Project in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation. Every single overdose death was reviewed by a team of investigators to make sure there was no criminality,” says Dr. Martin. “The second part of the project was research. Not only were we looking at every single overdose death in the county, we were also gathering data on each case that happened. The last part of the project had to do with public awareness and public education. That is where the NOPE Task Force comes in.”
Unfortunately, outside of emergency services, medical professionals and families personally affected by opioids, not many know of the current opioid epidemic. Dr. Martin discusses how the NOPE Task Force works to increase public awareness of the epidemic. “It just never made the news. It was a silent epidemic, if you will,” says Dr. Martin. “In order to prevent future tragedy, we needed to get the word out. So we teamed up with families and saw the schools as the best venue for getting this word out. NOPE Task Force is still active today.”
NOPE Task Force has been presenting its touching and encouraging message to schools since 2004. Dr. Martin touches on the program’s effectiveness. “It is hard to demonstrate that we have changed behavior. What we are able to demonstrate is that we have changed people’s level of awareness and people’s perceptions and attitudes about certain key issues,” says Dr. Martin. “Would you be willing to call 911 if you were at the scene of an overdose? We ask the audience this question when we come in and at the end of our presentation to demonstrate if we have impacted their attitudes in a positive direction.”
NOPE Task Force (Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that was formed in Palm Beach County, Florida in 2004, to combat the illegal use of prescription drugs and narcotics, as well as other abused substances. NOPE Task Force is comprised of community leaders and concerned families working to save lives.
911 Good Samaritan Act – 911 Good Samaritan Act
Overdose Suppression Project – A Comprehensive Response
NOPE Family Brochure – Coping With Suddon Loss
Risk Profile – Overdose Risk Profile Brochure
Detective Gary Martin: Founder, Vice President NOPE Task Force
Detective Gary Martin (Reserve) served as a homicide investigator in the Violent Crimes Division of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (Florida) for 20 years. In that capacity, Detective Martin investigated all manner of death. Since 2006, Detective Martin envisioned, designed, implemented and managed the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Overdose Suppression Project. This innovative and comprehensive venture includes components dedicated to overdose research, public awareness and targeted law enforcement. Dr. Martin also serves as Vice President of the Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education Task Force. Gary initiated the NOPE Task Force Support Group, assisted with design and implementation of the NOPE for Parents Program and the NOPE University Presentation.