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National Prevention Week comes after 447 Dallasites overdosed last year

National Prevention Week comes after 447 Dallasites overdosed last year
National Prevention Week comes after 447 Dallasites overdosed last year 02:24

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - This week marks National Prevention Week, an educational campaign surrounding substance use disorder.

And it comes at a time when drug overdoses are the highest in U.S. history.

Last year, 447 people in Dallas died of drug overdoses - more than double previous years. Niki Prince knows she could have been one of them.

"I'm a person in long-term recovery. I've been in recovery since April 9, 2008," she said.

She was a client at Nexus Recovery Center, where she now serves as director of recovery support and outpatient services. But she said the rise in substance use now is alarming.

"Along with the uptick in substance use, of course, we then see the spike in overdose," she said. 

The numbers, experts said, have exploded since the coronavirus pandemic began, due to isolation, lack of support, resources, and accountability, as well as the increased presence of fentanyl. Nexus practices a strategy called harm reduction, one of the White House's action items to combat the opioid epidemic. 

"I really like to think of harm reduction as overdose prevention," said Heather Ormand, CEO of Nexus Recovery Center. "It's the tools that allow us to save people's lives so that we can get them into a recovery model into sobriety." 

"We're looking at taking additional drug replacement therapies like Suboxone, methadone, and those sorts of things, and then we're also looking at things like NARCAN," said Prince.

NARCAN is a drug that immediately reverses the effects of an overdose. It's given either as a nasal spray or with an auto injector. And it's one lifesaving tool they're grateful they have today. 

"We start to see people living longer, people getting better over time. And, with that model, abstinence may come down the line, but we get people in the process of getting better," said Prince. 

Nexus Recovery provides substance use treatment to women, regardless of their ability to pay. If you or a loved one are experiencing a crisis, call 911 or The Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK)

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