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Texas AG Ken Paxton, new coalition announce launch of pilot program to combat opioid epidemic

The program aims to combat the epidemic among student-athletes in particular.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on Wednesday the launch of a new pilot program aimed at combatting the opioid epidemic.

Paxton and the new "Friday Night Lights Against Opioids" Coalition announced the launch of the program aimed at combating the opioid epidemic, especially among student-athletes. The coalition will do that by distributing over 3.5 million at-home medication/drug disposal packets during high school football games.

The coalition includes several former NFL football players including Texas native and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Mike Singletary; Pro Football Hall of Fame member Randy White; Ed "Too Tall" Jones; and Aaron Williams.

Other people involved include:

Martin, along with the Texas High School Coaches Association, said student-athletes, parents and community leaders would help hand out the drug disposal packets during home football games across Texas between Oct. 27 and Dec. 17.

"Our 25,000 member coaches are very aware of this crisis … and will be quick to stand up and make a huge impact in this initiative as we move forward, as we have as an association the ability to reach every high school in the state of Texas," Martin said during a press conference announcing the program.

Paxton said in addition to the packet distribution, public service announcements will be made during football games and educational materials will be sent to more than a million parents and students with the help of the THSCA information network.

“With prescription drug misuse on the rise among high school students, more must be done to keep our students safe,” said Attorney General Paxton. “That’s why I’m proud to help launch this program to ensure that we’re doing everything possible to make sure that our children are safe and that unused opioids can be disposed of promptly and properly. It will take all of us – public officials, educators, parents, coaches and community members – working together to end this epidemic, and that’s why this coalition is so vital.” 

Texas Sen. Donna Campbell (Texas-25), an emergency room physician, also attended the press conference.

"We've got to educate our children about this. Every day we're hearing about the tragedy of opioid use in our children," she said.

In Travis County, fentanyl led to 118 overdose deaths in 2021. According to the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office report, in 2021, drugs were the leading cause of accidental deaths.

In Hays County, four high school students died of fentanyl overdoses this past summer.

To help fight the drug crisis, Travis County officials declared a public health emergency in May.

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