Task force created to tackle reducing opioid-related deaths in Bexar County

By Bill Barajas - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Opioids have been a problem in our country for decades, and Bexar County ranks third in per capita rates of death from opioid overdoses. The Joint Opioid Overdose Prevention Task Force was created to prevent future opioid-related deaths.

"At the beginning of the epidemic, the overdose was largely due to prescription opioids, largely seen in the 40- and 50-year old population. As the epidemic has progressed, what we’re seeing is that the younger population die from an opioid overdose caused from heroin and fentanyl," said Colleen Bridger, Metro Health director.

The task force is made up of more than 30 members, including first responders, health care experts, policymakers and pharmaceutical professionals.

"We have systems in place on how to provide access to naloxone to improve and provide education and to help people access treatment services," Bridger said.

The plan includes arming the San Antonio Police Department with naloxone, a life-saving nasal spray drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.

"Every single SAPD police officer with a badge, by the end of December, will have been trained in administrating naloxone and have will access to it," Bridger said.

The task force is operated through federal funding. So far, they've received $11 million.

"Some of the federal funds went to the state and then got dispersed to San Antonio, and some came directly to San Antonio," Bridger said.

KSAT asked about the number of deaths since the creation of the task force, but officials said they don't have statistics at this time and hope to have some soon.

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