Abbott spoke at the Texas Department of Public Safety office in Waco and was joined by DPS Director Steve McCraw and McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara. He discussed the state’s new “One Pill Kills” campaign, which was introduced Oct. 17.
The campaign focuses on the dangers of fentanyl poisoning, which occurs when someone unknowingly ingests the deadly opioid and subsequently overdoses.
Abbott encouraged lawmakers to consider officially defining fentanyl overdoses as poisonings during the 88th Texas Legislature, which begins Jan. 10. If the reclassification is successful, Abbott said it would be considered murder to knowingly give someone fentanyl-laced drugs that lead to their death.
“The good news is that there is an immediate response antidote [for] someone who takes fentanyl,” Abbott said. “They could be going through a seizure on the brink of losing their life, and if they can gain access to Narcan, that can save their life instantly.”
Narcan should be carried by law enforcement officers and provided to schools, Abbott said.
The medication naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is used to quickly reverse an opioid overdose. Naloxone can be administered as a nasal spray or injected into someone’s veins, into their muscle or under their skin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Abbott said state leaders will work with John Scott, Texas’ first chief of school safety and security, to provide schools with Narcan. Abbott appointed Scott, a former U.S. Secret Service Agent, to the new role Oct. 3.
Fentanyl is not present in all schools, Abbott said, but Narcan should be available to any schools that need it.
In Hays County, four students have died from fentanyl overdoses since May.
Abbott said the Legislature will provide funding for Narcan, potentially through a $27 billion surplus that will be available during the upcoming session. The governor’s office may also be able to fund Narcan distribution through criminal justice grants, he said.
“One way or the other, we'll find the resources to make sure that we're saving the lives of innocent people,” Abbott said.
Abbott also reiterated that fentanyl mainly enters the United States via Mexican drug cartels. In September, the governor designated Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations and encouraged federal officials to do the same.
The components of fentanyl are typically produced in China and exported to Mexico, Abbott said at a Sept. 21 news conference. He explained that cartels then combine the components, lace other drugs with fentanyl and transport the drugs into the U.S., where they are often distributed by gangs.