Local and county law enforcement officers are gaining yet another tool to combat drug abuse in the city of Henderson and Rusk County.

The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office, Henderson Police Department, CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System, East Texas Substance Abuse Coalition and Wise Up Rusk County have partnered together to address the national opioid crisis at the local level in Rusk County.

Beginning Thursday and continuing into next week at the RCSO, HPD and sheriff’s office will receive training from Abigail Riley, Northeast Texas Opioid Nurse Coordinator for CHRISTUS, on signs and symptoms of an opioid-related overdose and how to reverse an opioid overdose. 

“Working with these law enforcement officers is crucial in helping prevent deaths from opioid overdoses since they are often the first responders,” Riley said.

HPD Chief Chad Taylor emphasized the same point.

“The national opioid crisis has been a growing concern for some time now and it now affects our officer’s safety,” Taylor said. “This is an opportunity for us to participate in a program that not only protects our officers but gives us more tools to help with the problem here at home in our community.  

“Henderson Police Department has been involved with the DEA Drug Take Back for years with great results for our area,” he said. “This training is another step further in our fight with this ongoing issue. We would like to thank all parties involved with brining this training to our area.”

In addition to training the officers in what an overdose looks like, Riley will train the officers how to properly administer Naloxone, which can be used to treat narcotic overdoses in an emergency situation.   

Riley is donating kits with backup doses of Naloxone that were donated to CHRISTUS through the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative.

“These trainings are an important part of our overall strategy to prevent opioid abuse,” said Lauren Barnes, East Texas Substance Abuse Coalition Coordinator. “The availability of prescription controlled substance is especially a problem in East Texas.”

Locally, there are more controlled substances prescribed per capita than in the state, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Barnes said the high number of medications being prescribed means there’s more medications in the community that could be misused or diverted.

In addition to the upcoming Naloxone training, the agencies have collaborated to and installed a permanent prescription drug drop box at RCSO in downtown Henderson for safe year-round disposal of medications.

After the drop box was installed, Barnes said they formed the East Texas RX strategy to educate the community on safe use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs.

More information on the importance of safe disposal and drop box locations can be found at www.easttexasrx.com.

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