Harm reduction and awareness groups are working to educate Texans on how they can save lives.
AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Police Department released information on Friday about a series of overdoses that occurred overnight in downtown Austin.
“We’re definitely seeing a lot more overdoses. And it’s a fentanyl crisis right now,” said Sgt. Tracy Gerrish of the ODA Homicide Unit said at a press conference Friday afternoon.
RELATED: Investigation launched after series of overdoses in downtown Austin overnight
It is a crisis that some people struggle with every day.
“The drugs will always be there, and if you use them safely and are educated on what they are, I feel like it could save a lot more lives,” said Ana Granados, director of Texas Harm Reduction Alliance services.
Granados said there are resources available to prevent opioid overdoses.
“The Narcan we distributed was like saving hundreds of lives,” Granados said.
Narcan, or Naloxone, is an antidote to an overdose. It usually comes in the form of a nasal spray.
RELATED: Austin Police Officers Can Now Check Narcan at the Start of Every Shift
Claire Zagorski, program director and harm reduction instructor for the Texas Opioid Training Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, said Narcan is an important tool.
“I like to compare it to a fire extinguisher. I hope you never need to use a fire extinguisher in your life. However, if you have a fire in your house, you really want it there,” said said Zagorsky.
Narcan is available to everyone in Texas. Zagorski said it can be found at any pharmacy and everyone should carry it.
“Even though naloxone is technically not over the counter, it still has something like a legal exclusion in the state of Texas that allows anyone to carry it, even if they don’t have a drug. prescription from a doctor,” Zagorski mentioned.
In 2020, there were more than 90,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States and in Texas there were more than 4,000, according to the CDC. In Travis County, more than 260 people died from overdoses, an increase of 36% from 2019.
Granados said telling people to just stop using drugs isn’t the answer.
“Testing drugs and educating the community will help these people on the streets a lot more,” Granados said.
Advocates urge everyone to be armed with the tools that can save lives.
“It’s our community and it’s our neighbors. And if we have a simple and effective option to help save the lives of our neighbors and we do, let’s use it,” Zagorski said.
Texas Harm Reduction Alliance
How to Get Naloxone in Texas
Addiction and Mental Health Services Administration
Texas Opioid Education Initiative at UT Austin
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