Bexar County, which is believed to have the worst opioid addiction problem in the state, is receiving a major boost in the form of a $19.3 million federal grant which will be used to tackle the problem head-on, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"Opiates is about as bad as it gets," said Sheriff Javier Salazar, who spent years on drug task forces on the San Antonio Police Department. "It ruins lives, it ruins careers, it ruins families."
The money will be used for a wide variety of challenges, according to County Judge Nelson Wolff, including education programs designed to stop addiction from occuring by training people how to properly dispose of meds.
"So many times, people leave their medicines in their cabinets when they are no longer being used, and kids can get ahold of them, and many times the prescription given to that person is way over-prescribed," Wolff said.
In fact, experts say unlike 'street drugs,' like crack or meth, the number one way a person gets addicted to opioids is through legal prescriptions, frequently swiping unused pills out of a person's medicine cabinet.
Bexar County's opioid problem is beginning to slow, but the use of fentanyl, which is a substitue for opioids, is on the rise.
Among the issues that will be addressed---an effort will be made to get the nasal spray 'Narcan,' which reverses opioid overdoses, into the hands of first responders, especially EMS technicians.
UT Health School of Nursing will also be involved, coming with with programs to deal with the growing number of babies who are being born with opioid addictions, and dealing with other health issus.
"Bexar County is becoming the epicenter of opioid related education, prevention, and treatment," Wolff said.