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Effects of Deadly Opioid in Valley

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EDINBURG – Federal authorities confirmed the deadly opioid, fentanyl, is here in the Rio Grande Valley.

Authorities say fentanyl is not easy to spot, especially when mixed with other drugs.

Fentanyl can make habitual drug users accidental addicts and can take lives on the first try.

Local resident, Stephen Allie struggled with heroin addiction.

"I was panhandling. I'd come up with $10. I'd buy a dime. I'd go in the McDonald's bathroom on Texas and 83. I'd go shoot it and then I'd go back out. I'd go panhandle, buy another dime," Allie explained. "I was doing that for almost two weeks, wearing the same clothes, everything. I was tired. I was done."

Experience dictated how much he could tolerate; a hidden chemical agent changed the equation.

"I took it thinking it was just a regular Roxycodone pill, and I knew what my tolerance was, but that wasn't the case. It had fentanyl in it. I was in a coma, I think it was four days I was in the hospital," says Allie.

Heroin and cocaine can be cut with fentanyl and can also come in the form of a counterfeit pill.

People will buy Oxy, Xanax, Ritalin, or Hydrocodone could get more than they expect.

A two-milligram dose of fentanyl is considered a lethal dose by the Drug Enforcement Administration, but the right amount can make the bond between a person and the drug stronger. Making the habit harder to break.

Even the bonds of love may not be enough to undo the knot to what can become a noose, cautions Allie.

"It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what you say to them. It doesn't matter what you dangle in front of them as far as 'we can do this, we can do that.' None of it matters. The only thing that matters is that they are done with their run. They have to be done with it," he says.

Patterns can be broken and Allie is clean, working to help others as a peer recovery coach at Behavioral Health Solutions.

When it comes to fentanyl, the best advice is to avoid getting caught in its gravity.

Martha Gutierrez, a prevention specialist with Behavioral Health Solutions, says, "It's very important than any adult from parents to teachers to doctors, they get informed specifically about what the opioids do overall, and yes, have in mind what fentanyl does too because of how dangerous it is and how rapidly it's growing in the country."

There are treatment options in the Valley to treat addiction to fentanyl.

For Stephen Allie that involved a detox at the hospital and methadone treatment at another facility.

To get started, the public can call 1-800-813-1233.

The facility covers the Valley, Laredo and Corpus Christi and will help answer questions about what's available and how to get started.

Behavioral Health Solutions offers services free of charge.

For Narcan treatment, which helps prevent an overdose through injection or nasal spray application, Tropical Texas Behavioral Health can be found at 4901 South McColl Road in Edinburg. Their phone number is 956-381-3007.

Some additional educational resources from Region One can be found below.

For English click here. For Spanish click here.

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