As reported in News-Press, Dumas Police Department (DPD) Chief Ray Resendez said in late 2021 that seven Moore County residents had died of an overdose of fentanyl (a strong opioid) and others illegal drugs over the previous two years, while DPD officers had been forced to resuscitate 10 overdose victims in recent weeks. “One life lost is too much for us,” he said. Dumas and Moore County have felt the effects of a national problem that has claimed the lives of thousands, stretched resources and led to a series of lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies.
Since 2021, the problem has grown steadily across the state, prompting the Texas Medical Association to issue a press release expressing concern and calling for greater availability of naloxone, a drug used to counter the effects of opioids and saving the lives of overdose victims. . “Raising awareness and improving the availability of lifesaving treatments is more important than ever,” said Dr. Max Eckmann, MD, president of the Texas Pain Society.
According to the press release, “Nearly 5,000 Texans have died from drug overdoses, an 18 percent increase from a year ago. … Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids contribute to that death toll, killing 1,634 Texans, an 82% year-over-year increase.
“While all drug addiction is tragic, fentanyl overdoses and the addictions that precede them are killing Texans at an appalling and persistent rate,” said Daniel Walk, MD, a member of the Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Committee. Texas Medical Association. “It’s heartbreaking to see that stat playing out in front of me; having to tell someone’s parents that their daughter or son will never come home.
Fentanyl and other opioids are used to treat severe pain in a medical setting. The problem is that they are also addictive and can be extremely dangerous when used outside of a medical setting. According to Eckmann, the amount of fentanyl that can fit on a pen tip can be deadly. “Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.”
Addicts often turn to heroin or illegally produced fentanyl when they can no longer obtain legal drugs. These, experts say, are particularly dangerous. Some illegally produced fentanyl is stronger than the legally produced version and contains additional harmful substances that the person taking the drug is not aware of.
According to Eckmann, the rise in deaths is occurring even as legal drug prescriptions have fallen by more than 44% in recent years as the dangers have become more apparent.
In addition to increasing public awareness, Eckmann and Walk say it’s important to make naloxone more accessible to patients, their families and others. “Everyone should have access to naloxone at an affordable price and through a local pharmacy, on demand and without a prescription. It could help families when loved ones “fall off the train” and start using drugs again,” according to the press release.
The Texas Medical Association is also calling for increased resources for treatment. “Increasing investment in and awareness of treatment programs and facilities to help those suffering from addiction is another step the entire community – doctors, health insurers, government and law enforcement – can take to alleviate the problem.