Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council cheers Texas’ new fentanyl crisis laws

Published 12:20 am Thursday, July 6, 2023

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Members of the prevention arm of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council welcome the four new laws that will help in the state’s fight against the increasing impact of opioid fentanyl.

The laws, which were passed during the 88th Regular Legislative Session, will prosecute fentanyl deaths as murder, ensure death certificates pronounce the death was caused by fentanyl, provide more NARCAN to Texas colleges and universities and educate young Texans about the dangers of opioid misuse.

“We are thrilled that our state lawmakers see the fentanyl crisis as just that; a crisis that has caused the deaths of thousands of people in Texas,” said Manager of Prevention on Resource Center at ADAC Melanie Patterson. “We at ADAC work extremely hard to educate our young people against the dangers of drug misuse. The passage of these laws will help us in our mission and help make all Texans aware of this very dangerous drug.”

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, K9 Rudy helped detectives locate a large amount of heroin/fentanyl inside the vehicle in May 2022. (Photo courtesy of the sheriff’s office)

In 2022 more than 2,000 people died from fentanyl in Texas, according to the Office of the Governor. Unfortunately, Patterson said, many students have not heard about fentanyl or its deadly effects.

ADAC has been an advocate for educating students, parents, and Texas residents about the drug, taking part in Fentanyl Awareness Day on May 9, and promoting messages about the drug on its social media platforms.

Fentanyl is odorless, tasteless, and extremely potent. It is used in fake pills disguised as Oxycontin, Percocet and Xanax, and it is impossible to tell which pills contain a lethal amount.

“One of the things we ask people is, ‘do you know where your pill or powder came from?’ Unless it came from a pharmacy, it could contain a lethal dose of fentanyl,” Patterson said. “It is true. One pill can kill.”

Specifically, the laws do the following:

• Create a criminal offense of murder for supplying fentanyl that results in death, enhances the criminal penalty for the manufacturing or delivery of fentanyl, and requires deaths caused by fentanyl to be designated as fentanyl toxicity or fentanyl poisoning on a death certificate. Previous laws did not require such classification on a death certificate, with most fentanyl-related deaths designated as an overdose.

• Establishes October as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month to help increase awareness of the dangers of fentanyl.

• Requires public schools each year to provide research-based instruction on fentanyl misuse prevention and drug poisoning awareness to students in grades six through 12. It also requires the governor to designate a Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Week.

• Allows the distribution of opioid antagonists, including lifesaving NARCAN, to Texas colleges and universities to prevent opioid poisonings.

Patterson said the Preven on Resource Center of ADAC will con nue its mission to educate the public and students about the dangers of fentanyl throughout its Region 5 catchment area.

Region 5 covers the Deep East Texas counties of Orange, Angelina, Hardin, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler.

For more information about the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council or for statistical information about Region 5, contact ADAC at 936-634-5753. ADAC offers presentations on available services, referral resources and information related to substance use and misuse and offers a 24-hour referral service.

Appropriate referrals are made based on identification and need and ADAC can provide state-funded outpatient treatment for indigent clients.

ADAC identifies possible substance misuse for both adolescents and adults. The Council also identifies strengths, problems and needs as they relate to the use or misuse of alcohol and other drugs.