Members of the Dallas community gathered at the Children’s Health Specialty Center on Monday to raise awareness of the fentanyl epidemic in Dallas.
One local woman who spoke at the roundtable, organized by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), was Flower Mound resident Kathy Travis, who lost her 25-year-old daughter Jessica Duke last year to fentanyl.
“It was the worst day of my life,” she said. “No parent should ever lose a child, but to find her, it was just terrible.”
Travis said she thought her daughter was making progress after going through rehab 11 times in six years. Unfortunately, she became depressed during the government-imposed lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Jessica began using illegal drugs again.
“She was getting depressed all over again, going through the whole cycle of mental health depression, and she bought the wrong drug because two days before, we were talking about goals for her future,” said Travis.
“She did not want to die,” she continued. “She got caught up in being lonely.”
Travis was one of three mothers who spoke during the roundtable whose adult children died from fentanyl.
Chance Nash, an 18-year-old patient in recovery at Phoenix House, said, “Whenever I would use, I would lie, steal, cheat, and manipulate my loved ones.”
“I was carried to an ambulance by EMTs after I almost died,” he said.
Lance Sumpter, director of the Texoma High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federally-sponsored task force, told the panel that this year his organization seized 200 million doses of fentanyl in his coverage area, which includes North Texas and all of Oklahoma.
Michael Igo, assistant chief of tactical and special operations at the Dallas Police Department, added that city police officers have seized 15,000 grams of fentanyl since 2019, including 3,700 grams this year alone.
“Fentanyl has become a significant public safety threat across this entire country,” said Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.
Last year 1,600 Texans and 71,000 Americans died from fentanyl — the leading killer of adults ages 18-45 in the United States.
In response to these statistics, Senator Cornyn asked, “Why haven’t we declared war on these drugs that have taken innocent lives? I think this is a call-to-arms.”
Last year, the senator introduced legislation that would provide additional funding for substance abuse disorder programs nationally. The bill has already passed in the Senate, and Cornyn said he is pushing for the House to pass it as soon as possible.
“I think it should be something that’s a consensus position, just as the war on terror after 9/11,” said Cornyn during a press conference that followed the roundtable discussion. “You can’t run, you can’t hide. You have to confront it head-on and that starts at the White House and ends in every living room, every school room in our state.”
Kathy Travis agreed with Cornyn, saying that the fentanyl overdose issue would not stop without local, state, and U.S. governments declaring war against it. She explained, “We have to quit hiding behind a brick wall per se and pretending that it’s not happening to us and our children because it is.”
The Dallas Express previously covered new rainbow-colored fentanyl pills that have been reported on the streets of DFW to attract younger users.
Just couldn’t resist the finger pointing could you Mr Cornyn. You got it backwards. It begins in each living room, each school room, state legislature, and Congress (of which you are a part of). The White House signs or vetoes legislation passed by Congress. When the White House tries to legislate, you complain about exceeding their authority.