HENDERSON, Texas (KETK) – Governor Greg Abbott announced new initiatives to combat the opioid crisis as deadly drugs like fentanyl pour across our borders, putting teens and young adults at risk.

Governor Abbott said he’s expanding access to the opioid overdose treatment Narcan, so more people can have access to the life-saving drug. He’s also supporting the passing of a law that would ensure dealers who give drugs laced with deadly opioids get charged for murder if someone dies.

The CDC reports nearly 5,000 Texans died because of drug overdoses so far in 2022, which is even more than 2021. These alarming rates are because of the rise in illegally produced drugs laced with fentanyl.

“Drugs off the street that perhaps were less dangerous in the past are now many times more dangerous than they were before,” said Texas physician and the President of the Texas Pain Society, Dr. Maxim Eckmann.

In August, a sophomore student near Austin died after a suspected fentanyl overdose.

“The life-threatening aspect of fentanyl is that it slows your breathing, often to the point that you stop breathing completely which then leads to cardiac arrest and death,” said Dr. Eckmann.

Dr. Eckmann said if you survive taking fentanyl, it can relieve stress. The euphoric feeling is what entices addicts to keep using, but it very quickly takes a turn for users. 

“In between doses of narcotic medications they can get stomach problems, they can feel their heart racing, they become very anxious and that bad feeling then becomes the drive to use,” said Dr. Eckmann

East Texas schools like Henderson Middle School are doing their part to raise awareness and prevent drug use. Henderson Middle School Counselor Carrie Howard said she has discussions with students, and wants to make sure parents are also talking to their kids about the dangers of these drugs.

“Have those conversations because a lot of times parents can deter bad choices before we can even know about them,” said Howard.

Howard said a lot of teens just want to fit in and may end up trying something that can get them hooked pretty quickly.

“We want them to know that one small pill can change your life forever,” added Howard.

Howard said some of the kids are just brilliant and they can make one bad decision and their life is done with.

One form of drug prevention in Henderson schools is a drug dog named Barney. He’s there as a reminder to students, they should be doing the right thing always.

“He actually locates contraband that’s not allowed in the school. That ranges from firearms to nicotine,” said K-9 school resource officer, Clint Case.

“Some of these kids are just brilliant and they can make one bad decision and their life is done with,” said Case.

Substance abuse is a lifelong battle for many. Henderson ISD said they want all of their students to have bright futures and that’s why these talks are so important to have right now. 

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