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Opioid awareness workshop in Henderson County focuses on epidemic East Texans are facing

Published: Nov. 20, 2021 at 6:13 PM CST
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ATHENS, Texas (KLTV) - From April 2020 to April 2021 a record number of deaths from drug overdoses was recorded in the U.S. More than 100 thousand people in the US died of a drug overdose in the first year of the pandemic according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Harrison Ndetan is a professor of epidemiology & biostatistics at The University of Texas at Tyler. He is also a part of the Henderson County Substance and Opioid Control Coalition.

“Look at Henderson County, which is also predominantly rural. So within these rural communities, you see one in every seven high school student is using prescribed medication without even talking to a doctor,” Ndetan said.

Earlier this year, the Health Resources and Services Administration awarded a $1 million grant to the organization. Today was their first community event to help increase access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services for residents in Henderson County.

“Within the counties in Texas, over 240 counties, Henderson County ranks among the top 6 percent of opioid and substance abuse problems,” Ndetan said. “This situation is even more deplorable when you start thinking about access to services. There is gross inadequacy of prevention, treatment, and recovery services for people suffering from opioid use disorder.”

There were speakers, organizations, and an opportunity for conversation.

Lauren Hughes is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who spoke at today’s event. She said she wants to raise awareness about what’s going on in their community.

“It’s not just prescribing medication, and it’s not just going to counseling for anxiety or something, it’s really looking at people as a whole, what’s going on in the community as a whole,” Hughes said.

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