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New enemy at the gate a dangerous drug

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Fentanyl, an opioid that has been with us for many years in the United States. It’s a relatively newcomer in the field of deadly narcotics.

Fentanyl use has increased in Texas recently, and overdoses attributed to this synthetic drug have skyrocketed due to its strength compared to other less-potent opioids.

Fentanyl is prescribed to alleviate moderate to severe pain under a doctor’s care. It’s more potent than other opioids, such as morphine or oxycodone, so a small dose is effective relief of pain. However, its potency also makes fentanyl highly addictive, and people can become addicted after just one use.

In Texas the fentanyl crisis is taking a devastating toll, as overdoses have risen more than 70 percent in recent years. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported that opioids were responsible for upwards of 3,000 overdose deaths last year.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone which includes fentanyl and fentanyl analogues increase significantly from 2020 to 2022. The number of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids in 2022 was more than 20 times the number in 2013.

Law enforcement has been cracking down on synthetic opioid trafficking within Texas, seizing nearly 400 million lethal doses of fentanyl. Additionally, the DEA has also stepped up efforts to prevent the influx of manufactured fentanyl into Texas, conducting multiple investigations and raids with cooperation and assistance of Texas the law enforcement community.

In Texas steps have been taken to combat the spread of fentanyl and support those suffering from addiction. In December 2022 Gov. Greg Abbott signed support for the legalization of fentanyl test strips which can detect if a drug contains fentanyl and thus help reduce the risk of overdose.

There appears to be bipartisan support for these measure in the Texas legislature as well.

Abbott has also advocated Narcan, a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, be made available to the public, and through his efforts this life saving product is now available over the counter at most pharmacies.

With fentanyl drug overdoses on the rise, it’s critical to take action to keep yourself and your loved ones safe since substance use disorders can affect anyone regardless of age or socioeconomic status. It’s essential to be aware of the risks and take action to protect yourself. Steps include:

•Speak with your doctor about your risk of opioid use disorder.

•Educate yourself, and your family on the dangers of fentanyl.

•Be aware of the signs and symptoms of an overdose.

•Monitor prescriptions for opioids and other drugs that could contain fentanyl.

•Know how to recognize fentanyl overdose and seek help immediately.

•Keep Narcan on hand in case of an emergency.

•Seek treatment for a substance use disorder if necessary.

As the use of fentanyl continues to grow throughout Texas everyone needs to be aware of the dangers this powerful synthetic drug poses. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to opioids contact Texas Health and Services at (888) 681-0927.

Texas State law requires that reports must include the following:

•The date of overdose

•Type of control substance used

•Sex and approximate age of victim

•Symptoms associated with the overdose

•Extent of treatment necessary

•Patient outcome

Call my office and we will assist you by referring you to the appropriate agencies for further assistance and treatment.

I hope you find this information helpful. Should you need additional information on this subject or any other subject, reach out to my office by calling my non-emergency number at (936) 653-4367 and ask the dispatcher for assistance.

Greg Capers is Sheriff of San Jacinto County.

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