Nueces Co. opioid task force formed to address epidemic

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 19:11:37-04

CORPUS CHRISTI — Nueces County commissioners are taking action to address the growing opioid epidemic. They voted today to create a task force to deal with the problem.

It's a small army made up of police, firefighters, the district attorney's office, and even CCISD. They'll form part of the opioid task force and their mission is to do one thing, combat the opioid epidemic.

Barbara Canales, the Nueces County judge, says the statistics in the county are alarming.

"When you are three times more likely to have an overdose in your county then let's say, in Harris county, or in the Valley, that's a problem."

The problem is only getting bigger. In fact, the CDC reports in 2017, the number of deaths involving opioids was six times higher than in 1999.

Numbers like these are also seen in the Coastal Bend.

"We want to drive those statistics way down," said Judge Canales. "Our statistics for opioid use and our statistics for opioid overdose are alarmingly high in Nueces County."

That's why the opioid task force was formed. It's a network of elected officials and healthcare professionals to help address the problem.

With help from the Nueces County Medical Society Alliance, county officials and the task force hope to accomplish several things: education, prevention and support.

That involves visiting high schools to talk about opioid abuse, making sure narcan is readily available to every first responder and police officer, preventing the start of addiction by discussing pain management with doctors and medical professionals, and by providing support and resources for those who are facing opioid addiction.

"We're going to have to join forces and we're going to have to so collectively for the better good," said Judge Canales.

The creation of an opioid task force in Nueces County will also make it easier for the county to get state and federal grants to help support their cause.

The task force will have their first official meeting next Tuesday, August 6. Those meetings will eventually be open to the public.

Agencies interested in taking part in this effort are encouraged to contact the county judge's office at (361) 888-0264.