HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 900,000 people have died of drug overdoses in the past 20 years. The CDC is now launching new educational campaigns to prevent those types of deaths.
Health care emergency workers here in the valley have seen the number of overdose cases locally has climbed during the pandemic.
Rene Perez, a paramedic for the South Texas Health Care foundation, has responded to many drug overdoses across the valley says all these cases could have been prevented.
“This is happening here, so we are not immune to it this is defiantly happening here,” Perez said. “There is probably about 7 or 8 of the deaths that I have come across in my field, that could have been reversed but unfortunately because of the delay in calling 911 or not calling 911 or somebody else calling 911 those are the deaths over the last two years that probably could have been prevented.”
According to the CDC, the number of drug overdose deaths in Texas has increased 37% between March 2020 and March 2021.
As a response to these national issues, CDC has launched four educational campaigns targeting young adults 18 to 34 years old. Doctors said a big factor in the rise of overdose deaths is due to synthetic drugs.
“They tend to be a lot cheaper so it’s more accessible to get a more of a so to speak high from these drugs,” said Dr. Usman Khan, Vice President of Emergency Health.
“Any calescent produced tablets that a friend might give you for you to feel better might be laced with fentanyl and you can die,” said Dr. Federico Vallejo with DHR.
While there are national efforts to get overdose death to stop, local doctors said the next step here in the valley is getting more community support.
“It’s a very serious situation, and it’s all about the education,” Dr. Vallejo said. ” Education from the parents from, school, from the city, from church, we have to be completely involved in educating our youth about the dangers of these drugs.”
To get more resources from the CDC on how to prevent drug overdose deaths click here.