Bexar County has been awarded four federal grants worth $3 million to fight opioid abuse and addiction, Congressman Lloyd Doggett announced Tuesday in San Antonio.
"It will provide some treatment. It will provide for better county planning. It will build and back up the efforts that are already underway here in Bexar Country to address this crisis," Doggett said.
All of the grant money is coming from the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of it will help pay for the Bexar County Opioid Prevention and Intervention Program, as well as the county's drug court. Another $750,000 grant will fund a new, specialized court docket for women who have both a diagnosis of mental illness and an addiction to opioids.
"The county is doing a good job in focusing on therapeutic justice, not just locking people up and throwing away the key, because many of these folks were addicted thinking they were doing the right thing on their doctor's orders and with the encouragement of these pharmaceutical companies, we need to help them get back to the life they want to lead and participate in their families and be good taxpaying citizens," Doggett said.
Doggett added that this funding is a mere drop in the bucket considering the size and scope of the county’s opioid problem. He said he hopes the pharmaceutical companies that developed and marketed these drugs will be forced to help pay to fight it.
“We need to be focused on getting the pharmaceutical companies that created a lot of this crisis to be held accountable and come up with some money for Bexar County and the rest of the country,” Doggett said.
Bexar County sued several opioid manufacturers and distributors in May. The county leads the state in the number of babies born with symptoms of opioid withdrawal. It has the third-highest rate of overdose deaths in the state.
Bonnie Petrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kbonniepetrie