Governor Abbott Announces Statewide Initiatives To Fight Fentanyl Crisis
Governor Greg Abbott today announced two major statewide initiatives to combat the growing national fentanyl crisis and save innocent lives in Texas during his One Pill Kills Summit in Austin. During a press conference following panel discussions, the Governor unveiled a new $10 million multimedia awareness initiative through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to educate Texans on how to prevent, recognize, and reverse fentanyl poisonings as part of the statewide "One Pill Kills" campaign. The Governor also announced the plan to distribute Naloxone (NARCAN) to all 254 Texas counties by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).
"Thanks to President Joe Biden and his reckless open border policies, the historic levels of fentanyl flooding across our border remains the single deadliest drug threat Texas and our nation have ever seen," said Governor Abbott. "With five Texans losing their lives every day to this clandestine killer, I launched our statewide 'One Pill Kills' campaign last fall to combat the growing fentanyl crisis wreaking havoc on innocent Texans and communities across our state. I thank HHSC for their hard work to raise awareness of fentanyl poisonings and prevention, as well as the Office of the Attorney General and TDEM for securing and implementing the distribution of NARCAN to every county in Texas. I am proud to be here today with so many strong voices leading the fight against the fentanyl crisis in Texas communities. Together, we will save more innocent lives from being lost to the scourge of fentanyl."
The Governor was joined for the announcement at the One Pill Kills Summit by Texas Against Fentanyl (TXAF) Founder Stefanie Turner, Representative Tom Oliverson, HHSC Executive Commissioner Cecile Young, TDEM Chief Nim Kidd, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw, Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner Dr. Jennifer Shuford, National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) President Brandon Judd, Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson, Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, Zapata County Sheriff Ray Del Bosque, families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl, and other state officials and fentanyl advocates.
Following Governor Abbott's directive last September instructing state agencies to ramp up efforts to combat the deadly fentanyl crisis, HHSC partnered with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio to create a multimedia initiative to educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl and how to use NARCAN to save Texans exposed to the deadly drug. In support of the Governor's ongoing coordinated "One Pill Kills" campaign to combat the growing fentanyl crisis plaguing Texas and the United States, this operation is targeted toward youth, parents, adults, and educators throughout the state using billboards, website and social media advertisements, Spanish radio announcements, and more.
"It is crucial we raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl to prevent poisonings in Texas," said HHSC Executive Commissioner Young. "All Texans should understand fentanyl risks and talk with their loved ones about its dangers and the life-saving power of NARCAN. Through this $10 million multimedia operation, HHSC is helping Texas lead the fight against the fentanyl crisis plaguing our state and nation."
The announcement of statewide distribution of NARCAN, a nasal medication that rapidly reverses opioid poisonings, comes after several opioid manufacturers entered into a legal settlement with the State of Texas, thanks to the efforts by the Office of the Attorney General of Texas. A portion of the settlement allocates NARCAN to the State of Texas to support communities in fighting the opioid crisis. TDEM will circulate the allotments of NARCAN and will soon begin distributing the first 20,000 units to county sheriffs' offices across the state. Each of Texas' 254 county sheriff’s offices will be eligible to receive a portion of this first allotment based on county population and size. TDEM is notifying all 254 sheriffs today of the upcoming distribution, and each may request that county’s initial allotment through the State of Texas Assistance Request (STAR) process.
"We are eager to distribute life-saving medication to counteract the impacts of the fentanyl crisis," said TDEM Chief Kidd. "As we work together to help Texas communities combat these deadly drugs, I look forward to working with local officials and first responders to provide medication that reverses the deadly effects of opioids."
Governor Abbott's One Pill Kills Summit, co-hosted with Texas Against Fentanyl, brought together Texas families, law enforcement, state officials, education leaders, healthcare professionals, and other fentanyl advocates for meaningful conversations to raise awareness about this deadly crisis, educate the public on the dangers of how one pill kills, and discuss solutions to save more lives. During the summit, the Governor and TXAF Founder Turner moderated three one-hour panel discussions with various leaders in the fight against fentanyl, highlighting the work Texas has done to address the growing national fentanyl crisis and discussing strategies and legislation to strengthen Texas' response to the crisis.
"Texas' efforts to combat the fentanyl crisis and educate the public should be replicated nationwide," said TXAF Founder Turner. "In the next few years, TXAF hopes to use Texas as a national model for increasing awareness of the fentanyl crisis to save innocent lives. I thank Governor Abbott for his leadership on this issue, and I look forward to being a voice alongside him as we fight to pass legislation that will educate Texans about the dangers of fentanyl and keep this deadly drug out of our communities."
The summit's first panel moderated by Governor Abbott and Turner included a roundtable discussion covering how the fentanyl crisis is impacting families and communities across Texas and proposed solutions to increase public awareness and better address the issue with Sheriff Henderson; Sheriff Del Bosque; NBPC President Judd; mothers of children lost to fentanyl Veronica Kaprosy, North Texas Fentanyl Coalition Founder Stephanie Hellstern, and Coalition to End Fentanyl Poisoning and Opioid Overdose Vice President Sandra Bagwell; and Leander High School student Jenna Mitchell.
The second One Pill Kills panel highlighted efforts currently underway by state agencies and law enforcement to address fentanyl's prevalence in Texas communities. State agency leaders also provided an update on their role in Governor Abbott's fentanyl awareness campaign. Agency leaders joining the panel included HHSC Executive Commissioner Young, DSHS Commissioner Dr. Shuford, DPS Director McCraw, TDEM Chief Kidd, TEA Commissioner Morath, Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Bryan Daniel, Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Stephanie Muth, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Chairman Kevin Lilly, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Bryan Collier, Texas Juvenile Justice Department Executive Director Shandra Carter, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Commissioner Dr. Harrison Keller, Sheriff Waybourn, and Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Director Mike McDaniel.
Members of the Texas House of Representatives joined the final panel to highlight proposed legislation that will save more lives and help ensure the Governor's emergency item of fighting the fentanyl crisis is accomplished during the current 88th Legislative Session. Governor Abbott and Turner were joined by Representatives Frederick Frazier, Craig Goldman, Terri Leo-Wilson, John Lujan, Tom Oliverson, and James Talarico.
Governor Abbott has taken the following actions to address the growing fentanyl crisis plaguing our state and the nation:
Signing a law enhancing penalties for the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl
Designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations
Announcing fighting the fentanyl crisis as an emergency item for the 88th Legislative Session
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 18-45. Last year, more than 2,000 lives were lost to fentanyl in Texas. According to provisional data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas has experienced a 500% increase in fentanyl-related deaths since 2019. Under Operation Lone Star, Texas law enforcement alone has seized over 380 million lethal doses of fentanyl since 2021—enough to kill every man, woman, and child in America.