AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday, local leaders gathered in Austin to announce a new federally funded project to help address overdoses as a public health crisis in the Central Texas area.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, was joined by Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, Travis County Judge Andy Brown and representatives from Austin Public Health to announce the new funding, which will be used to break ground on the "substance use and misuse education and prevention project."
In a press conference Tuesday, Doggett detailed how the funding he secured in Congress will help public health authorities collaborate with leaders on the city, county and federal level to fight opioid addiction and harm reduction.
According to Judge Brown, the funding has been valued at $2 million.
"This preventable problem is the leading cause of accidental death in our community," Brown said. "Today's investment will save lives."
Officials said the funding will go toward more Narcan training – a drug that can help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose – for first responders and other members of the community. It will also go toward supporting counseling services and a community campaign to raise awareness.
"The City of Austin is committed to ensuring that our residents have the information they need to protect themselves from this threat. The infusion of federal money will enable us to expand our communication about the risk of opioid addiction and overdoses," said Mayor Watson.
Judge Brown added that overdose deaths are currently the No. 1 cause of accidental deaths locally.
The conference was held at 10 a.m. at the Austin Public Health building.