San Antonio community organizations help state researchers track non-fatal overdoses

Program launching statewide this fall

SAN ANTONIO – Local organizations that work with vulnerable and addicted members of the community in Bexar County have a good understanding of the overdose problem. Soon, groups across Texas will be able to help state researchers track that problem and compile data.

Kasey Claborn, a lead researcher with UT Austin, says a pilot program to gather the data launched in Bexar County, El Paso and Austin last fall and will be ready to launch statewide in fall 2022.

“The university’s trying to improve data for overdoses so that we can hopefully improve funding and access to services for people who use drugs,” Claborn explained.

The overdose information is compiled into the database called Texas Connecting Overdose Prevention, or TxCOPE.

“We’re asking anyone in the community -- if you hear about an overdose, you can anonymously report that overdose incident online. And it just helps to give us a better understanding of what’s going on in the community and where to allocate resources,” Claborn said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 107,000 fatal overdoses were reported last year, an increasing trend. Claborn wanted to create a system that would help track overdoses before they become fatal and learn where they are happening.

“We needed a way to serve the people who don’t come in contact with the health care system, and so this is a solution to that. And at a national level, nobody is collecting data the way we’re collecting it, primarily for non-fatal overdoses within the community,” Claborn said.

The organizations trained in the database will be asking a series of questions that will help ensure the data is not duplicated.

Claborn said this project is personal for her.

“I’ve seen over the past two decades just how tragic it is. The overdose crisis just continues to grow,” Claborn said. “Having that ability to report data, you know, to organize the data, to efficiently collect that data -- hands down (it) makes it easier to quickly respond to the needs of people.”

The project’s website will launch statewide in the fall. Click here to find more information about reporting overdoses in your community.


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About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.