Attorney General Pam Bondi News Release

May 10, 2013
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150

Attorney General Bondi, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Health Announce “Born Drug Free Florida” Educational Campaign

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Attorney General Pam Bondi, Department of Children and Families Assistant Secretary Rob Siedlecki, Department of Health Secretary and State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong, and members of the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns today announced the launch of a statewide educational campaign designed to prevent babies from being born exposed to prescription drugs. Newborns exposed to prescription drugs while in the womb may suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a painful withdrawal from the drugs, after birth. The campaign educates expectant mothers about the importance of discussing prescription drug use with their doctors, and it provides ways to assist women. The campaign includes a helpline at 1-877-233-5656, a website at, video and radio spots, and billboards.

“Educating expectant mothers about the risks they pose to their babies when they abuse prescription drugs is a crucial component of preventing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and protecting babies,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I am pleased that within one year of convening the first meeting of the Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns Task Force, we are already implementing its recommendations.”

“Through this partnership, we are educating families on the detrimental effects of substance abuse, especially the abuse of prescription drugs, during pregnancy,” Department of Children and Families Secretary Wilkins said. “According to the latest statistics, seven out of every 1,000 babies born in Florida suffer from this epidemic. We hope the campaign will help reverse this heartbreaking trend.”

"The Department of Health is committed to helping expectant mothers throughout Florida who
may be struggling with drug dependency,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “We are pleased to work with our partner agencies in this initiative so that no child will have to face the ugliness of drug withdrawal in the first days of life."

In 2011, there were 1,563 instances of newborns diagnosed with drug exposure in Florida. While that is a three-fold increase since 2007, NAS is still widely believed to be an underreported problem. Babies born with NAS suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, seizures, abdominal pain, incessant crying, and rapid breathing.

The “Born Drug Free Florida” campaign is the product of one of the recommendations of the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns. The task force spent the past year examining the problem and offered a wide range of recommendations to deal with the problem, including the creation of a statewide public awareness campaign.

For more information about the Born Drug Free Florida initiative, visit