Substance abuse

Fentanyl tops headlines, but there’s a bigger drug problem in Texas

Fentanyl has been in the headlines across Texas, grabbing the attention of state leaders worried about the drug crossing over the state’s border with Mexico and overdose deaths among young people.

But often left out of the discussion is that the drug is one part of a broader addiction crisis in the state. The synthetic opioid is rarely taken alone, and health care and law enforcement officials are dealing with multiple deadly drugs at once.

The illicit use of fentanyl began increasing in Texas around 2015, quickly sparking a crisis. Obtained with a doctor’s prescription, the synthetic opioid can be an effective pain reliever. But there’s been a rise both in the illegal use of the drug and now the manufacture of counterfeit prescription drugs that contain fentanyl but are packaged to look like something else, in an effort to cause addiction and generate repeat buyers.

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