Rep. Doggett: Federal funding goes to Austin to fight overdoses

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Local leaders are expected Tuesday to announce the flow of federal money to Austin to combat the rising number of overdose deaths in Travis County.

It comes as we wait for the 2022 Travis County Medical Examiner’s report to show just how deadly this year has been for drug users. The first six months of 2022 have already seen the same number of fentanyl overdose deaths as all of 2021 – 118 deaths.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) is among the leaders making the announcement this week.

“He will enter[to] education, so we have more people on the streets and elsewhere working with families, community leaders to try and talk about prevention and then rescue,” Doggett said.

The exact amount of money will not be revealed until Tuesday’s announcement, but Doggett said it will mostly go to Austin Public Health “to try and help current programs expand and have a continued presence while we have this issue.”

Overdose deaths — fentanyl in particular — are the focus of attention for Doggett and other Texas lawmakers right now as the legislative session is underway.

The president-elect of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals said they hope this session will bring about a big change.

There is support for harm reduction therapies, including: legalizing fentanyl test strips, expanding access to rehab housing, and changing the way the government handles opioid prescriptions in pharmacies.

“But right now, the biggest problem with access is that there are not enough detox beds and inpatient treatment beds. And a lot of that is due to the lack of government funding for these services,” said Joseph Gorordo, president-elect of TAAP.

Doggett also wants the state to put more money into the matter and said he is working in this session and outside the legislature to bring more money to Central Texas for resources.

“Hopefully we will see some resources here. Not only what I am doing tomorrow, but also working with the city and the county, I will look for additional grant money,” he said.

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