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New task force to tackle local opioid crisis

SA, Bexar County, University Health System launch Joint Opioid Task Force

SAN ANTONIO – The city of San Antonio, Bexar County and University Health System launched a Joint Opioid Task Force to find solutions to an addiction that affects millions of people nationwide.

The task force, which met Tuesday for the first time, brings together public health experts, medical and pharmaceutical professionals, first responders, policymakers, educators and social service agencies.

Related: Treatment program helps mothers, newborns battle opiate withdrawals

During the meeting, the task force outlined its four main objectives:

Making sure first responders are equipped with overdose reversal medications.

Encouraging physicians to take part in a drug-monitoring database designed to alert them to potential abuse.

Training healthcare providers on evidence-based prescribing and dispensing protocols.

Educating the community on how to safely dispose of prescribed opioids, the risks that accompany heroin use and other opioids, particularly in adolescents and how to seek treatment for addiction.

"First, where we start is an education effort for our entire community," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. "I think one positive element of what's happened here today is that we're raising the level of attention of what has become a national crisis."

Related: Opioid overdose deaths in Bexar County

Bexar County leads the state in infant opioid withdrawal and has the third-highest per capita rate of overdose deaths in Texas, officials said.

KSAT 12 also plans to raise awareness about the epidemic by airing a special program that dives deeper into the addiction.

KSAT.com has a special section, "The Painkiller Problem," that highlights the health epidemic. Click on the image below to visit the section.

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