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Texas Receives $2.6 Million for Public Health Response to Opioid Epidemic

Nearly half of all drug deaths in the state are attributed to opioids

This Aug. 29, 2018 photo shows an arrangement of prescription Oxycodone pills in New York. Figures from a 2017 survey released on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, show fewer people used heroin for the first time compared to the previous year, and fewer Americans misusing or addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
This Aug. 29, 2018 photo shows an arrangement of prescription Oxycodone pills in New York.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has received $2.6 million in federal funds to expand the state’s public health response to opioids over the next year.

The funds come through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will help local health departments and health care providers prevent overdose deaths and enhance the available data on opioid use in Texas, as well as expand the prescriber network for medication assisted treatment.

According to DSHS, the funds will also improve the department’s ability to track opioid related illnesses and other conditions being seen in emergency rooms around Texas.

Additionally, they will provide researchers and the public with more information on opioid use and its consequences via the DSHS Texas Health Data website. The website will allow access to more data and more quickly, down to county and ZIP code levels.

“Having more information on where opioids are being used and their effects on communities will let state agencies and our partners in cities and counties focus their efforts where the needs are most pressing,” said DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt.

Additional funds will be used to train public health personnel at the community level on when and how to properly administer naloxone, a drug that can help prevent someone from dying from an opioid overdose, so they can then train first responders and others in their communities.

DSHS also expects the grant will increase the number of doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners permitted to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication to treat opioid use in an office setting.

Drug deaths in Texas and nationwide have been increasing and nearly half of all drug deaths in the state are attributed to opioids.

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