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Bexar County Coalition Aims To Combat Opioid Epidemic

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Craig Zirpolo - Flickr http://bit.ly/2iA0fV3
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Naloxone Syringe

Bexar County has the third highest rate of overdose deaths per capita in Texas behind Dallas and Harris counties and leads the state in the number of newborns suffering from drug withdrawal symptoms. 

A Bexar County Joint Opioid Task Force created in June has the job of coming up with a local strategy to help those addicted, but also assist the first responders and medical teams who are on the front lines.

The group plans to lessen the impact of drug abuse and decrease death by overdose in the San Antonio area through a number of initiatives: helping health care professionals transition to an online prescription database, more resources for responsible disposal of unused medications, and use of the opioid-reversing drug called Naloxone.   

Metro Health director Colleen Bridger, who joined the City in April, comes from Orange County, North Carolina, where she oversaw the first health district to allow Naloxone administration for overdosing patients.

Bridger is set to co-chair the Bexar County Joint Opioid Task Force, which is expected to file a formal report with findings to the County Commissioners and City Council next September.

"We’ve had the opportunity to watch the rest of the United States for the last 20 years and learn what work and what doesn’t work when it comes to preventing opioid overdose deaths," Bridger said.

Addiction to pain killers and prescription drugs like Vicodin has contributed to a deadly problem in America. Overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi
Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.