Task force created to combat prescription drug abuse in El Paso

Prescription drugs

El Paso is taking on the issue of prescription drug abuse.

Wednesday, a new task force was formed to try and combat the issue.

Local law enforcement, hospitals and rehab clinics are all part of the task force.

The goal is to inform the public about the dangers of heroin and prescription drug abuse.

Local rehab clinics say that one in five teens have abused or misused prescription drugs like Vicodin or oxycodone.

The group's first step is holding a town hall to teach people about opioid abuse. It wants to make sure people aren't afraid or embarrassed to ask for help before something worse happens.

Something worse did happen to recovering heroin addict Sean Baird. He said his addiction put him in and out of jail many times.

Baird said it's not a way to treat this illness.

“There's something that I've learned throughout time that people say, 'Well you just got to hit your bottom. You just got to hit your bottom and that's what'll get you to stop,’” Baird said.” “Well, I've learned that there is no bottom. There's only one and that's death."

Baird said getting arrested and going to jail wasn't the solution for him. He had to surround himself with people who wouldn’t allow him to veer off the path to recovery.

"I made a commitment that I was going to come in here each and every day to build this pillar of support around me,” Baird said.

El Paso Police are part of the new task force. They can't stop making arrests.

"Obviously that's not what we would want,” Detective Mike Baranyay said.

But they want to be part of the solution.

"We want you to get that help to not become addicted in the first place and avoid coming into our system,” Baranyay said, “Because coming into our system isn't going to get you cured."

That's where the new task force comes in getting people like Baird the help they need.

"We don't have to end up in jails and institutions and death from our choices,” Baird said. “We do have choices. It's one thing that gets robbed from us in addiction and that's our ability to choose."

The new task force is holding a town hall event tomorrow. It wants people to know they shouldn't be afraid or embarrassed to get help. It’s located at Texas Tech Health Science Center on the 3rd floor, Room a-3500 at 4800 Alberta.

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