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Under new law, Texas to dole out Narcan to universities amid fentanyl crisis

‘Only 56 percent of college-age kids are aware that fentanyl is in fake pills’

A new Texas law adds colleges and universities to the list of institutions that the state can provide opioid antagonists to through the state’s Health and Human Services Commission.

More than 11,000 college students use cocaine on a daily basis, and nearly 5,000 students use heroin equally as much; these are also the two drugs most likely to be “diluted with fentanyl,” according to a Texas legislature analysis of the bill, S.B. 867.

The analysis added the situation provides “ample reason to make certain that institutions of higher education are properly enshrined in this statute for the purpose of ensuring those institutions may receive distributions of opioid antagonists.”

“Fentanyl has made its way into every type of pill imaginable at this point, so people can never be sure of what they are taking,” Nicole Ross of Song for Charlie told The College Fix.

The group is a national nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about what it calls “fentapills.”

“Just 36 percent of high school students and only 56 percent of college-age kids are aware that fentanyl is in fake pills, despite the harrowing stories we continue to see in the media about fentanyl deaths,” Ross said via email.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in 2022 that fentanyl-related seizures of the synthetic opioid were up 800 percent compared to the previous year in his state. This month, Abbott signed a quartet of bills to help tackle the crisis, including S.B. 867.

“These four laws will forever change Texas through new protections that will help save lives. In 2022, more than 2,000 people died from fentanyl in Texas—or more than five a day. It is the No. 1 killer of Americans ages 18-45. And as I noted at our fentanyl summit a few months ago, just one pill kills,” the Republican governor said at a bill signing ceremony June 14.

The other bills signed by Abbott include House Bill 6, which grants authority for fentanyl related deaths to be prosecuted as murder, and Tucker’s Law, which mandates that students in grades 6 through 12 are educated about fentanyl abuse.

The latter is named after Tucker Roe, a 19-year old who died of a fentanyl overdose after purchasing what he believed to be Xanax online.

The fourth, House Bill 3144, establishes October as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month in Texas.

An opioid is a drug that produces morphine-like euphoric effects, and includes some types of prescription painkillers as well as drugs such as heroin and cocaine. An opioid antagonist counters the effects of the opioid to stop an overdose. Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is the common opioid antagonist available to treat overdoses.

According to a fact sheet created by Song for Charlie, pharmaceutical-grade fentanyl and illicit fentanyl are two different things.

While pharmaceutical fentanyl is “a legitimate medication produced by pharmaceutical companies that have developed advanced technology to control the quality and maintain the proper dosages of the end products,” illicit fentanyl “is the black market version of the drug obtained or made by dealers and mixed into pills, other powders, blotter papers and liquids, etc. in ‘labs’ with no quality controls.”

MORE: West Point cadets’ fentanyl ODs offer cautionary tale for today’s spring breakers

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Rafael Oliveira is a fellow at the Falls Church Anglican. A graduate of The King’s College, he studied politics, philosophy and economics. His work has appeared in the Empire State Tribune and Empire State Magazine.