Harris County Launches Program To Fight Opioid Overdose With $2 Million Grant From The CDC

In 2018, nearly half of all drug overdose deaths in Harris County involved opioids.

Local officials from Harris County Public Health, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Baylor College of Medicine announced a new opioid overdose prevention program at a press conference Tuesday.

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) has launched a new opioid overdose prevention program, thanks to a $2 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"While it does not appear opioid overdose levels in Harris County have reached those seen elsewhere, we certainly want to do everything we can to keep it that way," Umair Shah, executive director for HCPH, said in a press release.

Still, almost half — 324 cases — of all drug overdose deaths in Harris County in 2018 involved opioids, according to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

"And these are all preventable deaths, which makes it even more important to bring in partnerships and collaboration," Daniel Newman, Head Nurse of Quality Improvement at Harris County Sherriff's Office, said at a news conference announcing the prevention program.

The program will take a three-pronged approach, focusing on data collection, treatment and prevention.

As part of the program, HCPH will provide additional resources to the Harris County Jail, including a licensed chemical dependency counselor and additional medications that can help prevent relapse. Former inmates are 40 times more likely to overdose than the rest of the community, said local officials at the news conference.

"I was once addicted to opioids, and I'm free now. It's just a real rewarding thing," said a man introduced as Mr. Wright, who successfully completed an opioid prevention program while incarcerated.

In addition to partnering with Harris County Jail, HCPH is also working with other local organizations, including Baylor College of Medicine to train physicians treating opioid addiction.

More information on the opioid overdose prevention program is available, here.