Activists urge Texas lawmakers to use budget surplus for overdose prevention

Posted at 6:39 PM, Feb 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 21:32:05-05

AUSTIN, Texas — Thousands of lives are lost each year due to fentanyl overdoses.

Activists say each death is more than just a "drug user."

It could be your neighbors, parents, siblings, children.

For San Antonio resident Ginger Treanor, it was her daughter Brooke.

"She was two days out of rehab," Treanor said. "She was just one of a kind. There was nobody else like her."

Brooke was addicted to heroin and lost her life just one year ago after drug makers spiked her dose with fentanyl.

Now her mother is joining activists at the state capitol to demand change.

"We have several bills and one of them is legalizing test strips for fentanyl so the addict can know what they're getting," Treanor said. "[Booke] most likely did not know because it was just a white powder."

Texas Harm Reduction Alliance hosted a rally at the State Capitol on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to spend the $33 billion budget surplus on stopping overdoses.

"There are real solutions to end the overdose crisis and we know what they are," THRA Director of Organizing Paulette Soltani said to the crowd. "It has nothing to do with criminalization and everything to do with investing in our communities."

Tony Carter, one of the speakers, said the growing list of overdose deaths are more than just numbers, they're people.

"We are here to help the people who can't help themselves," he said. "Everybody is different, but one thing is the same. Everyone is a human being."

Carter turned to drugs after losing his wife to cancer five years ago. He says addiction and even overdoses can happen to anyone.

"The people that's in the Legislature right now, how about their people be out here," Carter said. "How would it feel for them to lose a loved one? And the help ain't there?"

"We need comprehensive harm reduction centers across the state where people can access the supplies they need to stay safe," Soltani said. "We need authorization of drug testing tools, like fentanyl testing strips but more."

The rally ended with advocates laying on the floor in front of the Capitol for a moment of silence to raise awareness on the lives lost and the measures they say can be taken to save thousands.