Webinar Raises Fentanyl Awareness

Fentanyl Pills | Image by Drug Enforcement Agency
Fentanyl Pills | Image by Drug Enforcement Agency

The importance of awareness and education were the highlights of a fentanyl webinar this past Wednesday.

Kaleigh Becker, a prevention lead for the Texas Targeted Opioid Response team, whose mission is to save lives and provide life-long support to Texans with opioid and stimulant use disorders, led the webinar to help attendees better understand fentanyl and the dangers behind it.

There has been a huge surge in fentanyl-laced pills and powder drugs being found nationwide. In 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized more than 77 million fentanyl pills and nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder — the most fentanyl seized by the agency in a single year. The fentanyl being seized is also reportedly more potent.

There has also been a striking increase in fentanyl being found and seized in the metroplex, as previously covered by The Dallas Express. This has led to response teams being created to combat the deadly opioid from being brought into and distributed throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“The number of drug poisoning deaths has increased over time. And that’s largely due to fentanyl,” Becker said during the webinar. “In 2022, 44% of the drug-related deaths were a result of fentanyl.”

According to the DEA, fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45.

Becker noted that there were 1,530 deaths by fentanyl among this age group in 2022.

According to Becker, people use opioids for three primary reasons: to feel good, to feel better, and to do better. These substances often make users feel intense euphoria and pleasure, power, and energy, followed by relaxation. Often, people take these substances to help with stress, anxiety, and depression.

“The feeling of a need to do better can play a role in continuing to use substances,” Becker noted. “The likelihood of using substances and developing an addiction differs from person to person, and there’s not one single factor that determines it. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater their chance of experiencing high-risk substance use and addiction.”

Risk factors include a genetic predisposition, social norms, bad influences, poor coping mechanisms, and more. In contrast, protective factors include learning healthy coping mechanisms, positive parenting and family engagement, positive peer influences, and supportive social networks and environments.

People struggling with opioid substance abuse can visit the Texas Targeted Opioid Response website here.

According to the City of Dallas crime analytics dashboard, there have been 4,372 drug offenses committed in Dallas proper this year as of May 24. Drug crimes are especially common in Downtown Dallas, which regularly logs more violations than Fort Worth’s downtown area. Fort Worth’s city center is regularly patrolled by a special police unit and private security guards.

DPD has been hampered by an officer shortage, fielding only around 3,000 officers when a City analysis recommends that around 4,000 are necessary.

The department was allocated only $654 million this fiscal year, far less than what other high-crime cities like Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles spend on their police departments.

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