New Texas law will bring harsher consequences to Fentanyl distributors

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 7:54 AM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE/KLTV) - On average, five Texans die every day from fentanyl poisoning, according to the Texas Health and Human Services.

A new law going into effect this week is meant to help fight the fentanyl crisis in the Lone Star State and prevent these kinds of deaths in the future.

During the Texas regular session, House Bill 6 was passed to fight against the fentanyl crisis. The new law will do the following:

  • Increase the criminal offense to murder if supplying or manufacturing fentanyl results in death, a minimum 15-year sentence
  • Deaths caused by fentanyl will be labeled”fentanyl toxicity” or “fentanyl poisoning” on death certificates

This change in how death certificates are recorded will help in tracking data.

“It’s going to help us track that a little easier. Right now, it’s hard to track exactly how many overdoses, where it’s happening,” said Kim Bartel a spokesperson for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin, making it very deadly.

Overdose increase across East Texas

“We are seeing far more overdoses. As a matter of fact, our region, East Texas from Nacogdoches down to Mt. Vernon, we have the highest rates of overdoses in the State of Texas per capita,” said Bartel.

This is something that Melissa Black, an opioid nurse at Christus Health, is also seeing.

“810 in Texas overdose of fentanyl...last year in Smith County, it was the highest with 11 fentanyl deaths,” said Black.

It takes just two milligrams of fentanyl to be considered a lethal dose. For perspective, that’s equal to 10 to 15 grains of table salt. Most people are unaware that they have taken the drug.

“Up to 80% are being tested for fentanyl, and the majority of them had no idea they were taking fentanyl,” said Bartel.

Fentanyl can be cut into many drugs and can be hard to track.

“There’s no taste; there’s no smell. You don’t know that you’re taking it,” said Black.

Bartel said another way to battle against this opioid epidemic is by seeking help.

“Recovery coaches go with them every step of the way, waiting for them to get in treatment, while in treatment, even post-treatment recovery coaches are there to help them,” Bartel said.

If you want to know more about the services the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas provides you can click here.