AUSTIN - This afternoon, President Donald Trump announced the opioid crisis will become an official public health emergency. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports opioids kill around 100 Americans every day.
Here in Central Texas, Austin-Travis County EMS officials say opioid abuse is a problem, but it's not a crisis. The Travis County Medical Examiner's annual report for 2016 shows drug-related deaths account for just more than one quarter of accidental deaths in the county. Opioids were not among the most commonly detected drugs.
That being said, officials with both the Travis County Sheriff's Office and the Williamson County Sheriff's Office report the opioid abuse is growing in their counties.
"I think it would be naive to say that it's going to go away unless we do some things to counter those effects, so to just ignore this is not the proper response," Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody said.
One response tool is Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan. It can reverse the effects of an overdose.
The Williamson County Sheriff's Office is working to get the money to buy it. They also have a drug take back program where you can drop off drugs at their main station.
In Travis County, the sheriff's office reports all crime lab workers and vice officers have Narcan. They're also working to make sure all deputies have it.
This Saturday, The Drug Enforcement Administration will hold a "Drug Take Back Day." People can drop off prescription drugs to several drop off sites anonymously, no questions asked. It's to help prevent prescription drug and opioid abuse. To find dropoff sites near you, click here.
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