New task force to tackle community’s opioid crisis
High rates of infant drug withdrawal, overdose deaths in Bexar County call for a broad collaboration and solutions on several different fronts
BACKGROUND: Opioid addiction and misuse has become a national crisis, and Bexar County has not been spared. Our community leads the state in infant opioid withdrawal and has the third highest per capita rate of overdose deaths in Texas. To address this public health emergency, Bexar County, the city of San Antonio and University Health System have launched a Joint Opioid Task Force to find solutions to this complex problem. The task force brings together public health experts, medical and pharmaceutical professionals, first responders, policymakers, educators and social service agencies.
The task force, which will hold its first meeting Tuesday, August 8, will begin its work with 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.
A news conference to discuss opioid misuse in our community and the goals of the Joint Opioid Task Force will take place immediately before the first meeting is held.
Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg
Dr. Colleen Bridger, task force co-chair, director, Metropolitan Health District
Dr. Bryan Alsip, task force co-chair, chief medical officer, University Health System
9:15 a.m. Tuesday, August 8
University Health System Robert B. Green Campus clinical building, 903 W. Martin St., sixth floor