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Schools and treatment centers dealing with a rise in fentanyl use among young people

Following the death of four Hays CISD students after ingesting the drug, officials with Round Rock ISD ramped up efforts to end fentanyl use among students.

ROUND ROCK, Texas — Texas has seen a spike in opioid and fentanyl deaths over the past several years.

With that, local school districts and treatment facilities are trying to amplify their warnings to teens and young adults.

Fentanyl is a deadly drug that can be taken in many forms.

"I've even had several kids tell me they wouldn't use anything if it didn't have fentanyl in it because it didn't have the same effect," said Susanna Huffman, the director of residential and outpatient services with the adolescent drug treatment center Phoenix House Texas.

It's an epidemic doctors and experts say is showing up more and more among kids. 

"Even as young as age 12, we've been able to help," Huffman said.

Huffman said help should start before kids come through their doors.

"Our prevention specialists are going into the schools and really offering services to try to prevent, you know, the teens from even getting to our care in the first place," Huffman said.

Round Rock ISD is one of the school districts focusing on outreach.

"We're not naïve enough to think that it hasn't happened here yet," said Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, the chief of public affairs and communications for Round Rock ISD.

Following the death of four Hays CISD students after ingesting the drug, LaCoste-Caputo said Round Rock ISD ramped up its efforts to end fentanyl use among students.

"We will be partnering with some of these organizations, some founded by parents, who have lost a child to a fentanyl overdose or drug overdose," she said.

LaCoste-Caputo also said RRISD has an anonymous reporting portal that students have used to help make staff aware of any peers they may be worried about.

The Travis County Medical Examiner's Office told KVUE that last year in Travis County, 308 deaths were reported due to drug toxicity. Of those deaths, 118 were due to fentanyl overdoses. Furthermore, out of those 118 Fentanyl overdoses, 53 were seen between the ages of 14-30.

RELATED: Texas State Rep. James Talarico files bill to legalize fentanyl testing strips

Both LaCoste-Caputo and Huffman said carrying Naloxone, better known by its brand name Narcan, is a must.

"That's really a first line of defense that we've had for quite some time," LaCoste-Caputo said.

LaCoste-Caputo said RRISD also plans to set up a panel soon with local law enforcement agencies to help spread more awareness to teachers, students and the community at large.

"No one is above death and no one is above, you know, the effects of substance use," Huffman said.

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