The opioid epidemic has been an ever-present issue in the United States and one of its most deadly weapons is fentanyl.
Fentanyl use has increased in Texas recently, causing alarm among health professionals and community leaders. Sadly, overdoses attributed to the synthetic drug have skyrocketed as well, given its strength compared to other opioids.
If you live or work in Texas or are interested in the health issues surrounding this crisis, here is what you need to know about the fentanyl situation within the state.
What Is Fentanyl and How Does It Work?
Fentanyl is an incredibly potent synthetic opioid analgesic that is prescribed to alleviate moderate to severe pain. It works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which block pain signals sent by the brain and increase the amount of dopamine in the bloodstream to produce a feeling of intense pleasure and euphoria.
Fentanyl is greatly more potent than other opioids, such as morphine or oxycodone, so it only requires a small dose for effective relief of pain. However, its potency also makes fentanyl highly addictive, and people can become addicted after even just one use.
Additionally, due to its high potency, there has been an alarming rise in overdoses that associated with drugs containing fentanyl over the last decade.
Fentanyl Overdose Deaths in Texas is Taking it’s Toll
In Texas, the fentanyl crisis is taking a devastating toll, with overdose outbreaks attributed to this potent drug skyrocketing by more than 60 percent. As of 2021, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported that opioids were responsible for 2,506 overdose deaths.
Of all deaths related to opioid overdose among those aged 0 to 17 in 2020, a staggering 92 percent were due to the consumption of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Rates of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, increased over 56% from 2019 to 2020. The number of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids in 2020 was more than 18 times the number in 2013. More than 56,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids in 2020. The latest provisional drug overdose death counts through June 2021 suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl
Law enforcement officials have also been cracking down on synthetic opioids trafficking within the state, seizing 353 million lethal doses of fentanyl which were intended for sale.
Additionally, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has also stepped up efforts to prevent the influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl into Texas, conducting multiple investigations and raids to stem the tide of this dangerous drug in illegal drug markets.
What Is Being Done To Combat the Fentanyl Crisis?
In response to the opioid epidemic in Texas, steps have been taken to combat the spread of fentanyl and support those suffering from addiction.
In December 2022, Governor Greg Abbott signaled 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 the measure in the Texas legislature.
Gov. Abbott is also advocating Narcan, a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, be made readily available to the public.
Narcan, a critical drug in the fight against overdose deaths, carries an exorbitant cost of $125 per two doses. As such, first responders and harm reduction groups find it challenging to make this life-saving medication available to those who need it.
With these initiatives and more, Texas is taking action to combat the fentanyl crisis and protect its citizens from illicit drugs such as fentanyl.
Texans Fight Fentanyl
Texas fights fentanyl is a campaign in action from the Texas Workforce Commission. They have put together facts that can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In Texas the impact details are directly from The Texas Workforce Commission:
- Provisional data from the Texas Department of State Health Services indicate there were an estimated 2,506 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2021.?
- The average number of deaths per month has risen from 114 in 2019 to 209 deaths per month in 2021. ?
- Since 2017, opioids have been involved in about 52 percent of all unintentional overdose deaths.
- Of all opioid overdose deaths among those aged 0-17 in 2020, 92 percent involved a synthetic opioid such as fentanyl.?
- The top five counties with the most opioid-related overdose deaths in 2020 were: Harris (489), Dallas (217), Tarrant (165), Bexar (125), and Travis (109).?
- In 2020, Opioid use in Texas stood at 7.2 percent while nationally usage was lower at 5.6 percent.
- Of the 469 fatal work injury deaths in Texas for 2020, 2.8 percent were from unintentional overdose from nonmedical drugs or alcohol.
How To Protect Yourself and Loved Ones From Fentanyl-related Harm Such as Opioid Overdose
With fentanyl drug overdoses on the rise, it’s crucial 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.
Below are some of the steps you can take to protect yourself from harm:
- 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 a fentanyl overdose and seek help immediately
- Keep naloxone (Narcan) on hand in case of an emergency
- Seek treatment for a substance use disorder if needed
As the opioid crisis continues ravaging Texas communities, it’s important to take action to protect yourself and those you love. Taking the steps outlined above can help reduce the risk of opioid overdose and save lives.
How La Hacienda Treatment Center Can Help With Fentanyl Addiction
With over 50 years of experience treating opioid abuse and substance use disorders, La Hacienda Treatment Center has a proven track record of helping individuals and families overcome their devastating effects.
Our comprehensive treatment protocols are designed to address addiction’s physical, psychological, and spiritual components while providing compassionate care. From addressing mental health concerns that often underlie addiction to teaching relapse prevention techniques, we strive to help individuals achieve sustained recovery.
Factors that make La Hacienda one of the best centers for addiction treatment in Texas include:
- Facility: Nestled in the Central Texas Hill Country, our facility offers a calming and nurturing atmosphere for clients. We have an incredible 40 acres of peace and seclusion to encourage healing to those who need it most.
- Staff: Our staff consists of talented and caring individuals who provide individualized care for every client.
- 24/7 doctor-supervised detox unit: Patients who come to La Hacienda receive 24/7 medical monitoring and support from experienced professionals.
- Programs: We offer a variety of therapeutic programs to meet the individual needs of each patient, including group therapy, activities therapy, and experiential therapies.
- Expertise: La Hacienda’s team has extensive knowledge and experience treating substance used disorders, including opioid use and fentanyl addiction.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, La Hacienda Treatment Center is the ideal place to start recovery. Our team of caring and dedicated professionals is committed to offering our clients the highest personalized care, empowering them with the best chance for a successful recovery journey.
We strive to provide an environment that encourages long-term sobriety and sustainable healing.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one.
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 love is struggling with an addiction to opioids, contact La Hacienda Treatment Center today.
We strive for success with our proven record and all-encompassing treatment plans, helping you or your loved one find enduring sobriety and long-term recovery. Reach us today to kickstart your way toward a healthier future!