Texas launches opioid misuse prevention site amid increase in overdose deaths

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In this Sept. 11, 2019, file photo, medications slated for destruction are shown in a locked storage area of the police department in Barberton, Ohio. Even as the coronavirus outbreak and the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic have been a dominating theme in this year’s presidential race, Ohio, a battleground state in the presidential contest, is on track to have one of its deadliest years of opioid drug overdoses. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a new website designed to help the state combat opioid addiction and overdose. 

TXopioidresponse.org was created as part of the Texas Targeted Opioid Response (TTOR) and is available in English and Spanish.

Last month, the CDC reported that death by opioid overdose is accelerating during the pandemic. 

“We’ve seen a lot of isolation that can lead to depression,” said Michael Daniels, licensed chemical dependency counselor at Rio Vista Behavioral Health Hospital in El Paso. “We’ve seen use go up from a combination of mental health issues and isolation and people are finding ways to fill having more hours in the day.”

State and local entities are working to provide access to care and resources. 

Texas HHS reports an average of 128 people die every day from opioid use in the U.S. and the statistics are direr in Texas.

“One in five Texans has experienced an opioid overdose or know someone who has,” says Kasey Strey, the TTOR Director at Texas HHS.

Opioid use has evolved, said Daniels, with opioid and stimulant use being used in conjunction with Fentanyl. 

“In El Paso, we mostly see methamphetamine use and cocaine use. But the Fentanyl is being cut with those. Opioid use in the form of heroin has become more common over the last two years too,” he said. 

About 80 percent of heroin use occurs after a person has been misusing prescription opioids. 

Daniels says many turn to substance abuse to cope with a desire to change the way they feel. 

“Right now, we’re locked away — away from family and friends. The social aspect is gone now because you don’t have — we don’t have anyone to distract us as usual,” he explained. “Now there’s more hours in the day to change the way we feel.” 

Rio Vista Behavioral Health Hospital offers a chemical dependency program that runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

For resources and information on substance abuse and treatment in El Paso, click here.
For state information, click here.

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