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PATH conference sheds light on drug abuse

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The annual Prevention Awareness Team of Hidalgo (PATH) conference took place at the Mission Event Center on Monday.

The conference's goal is to update law enforcement officers on local drug trends, but this year the focus shifted to discuss problems that drug additions bring.

According to the Assistance Supervisor of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, Joel Morales, substance abuse has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic.

"Depression, anxiety, insecurity of where we are headed, and as you can see, the variant is going right back up," Morales said during the conference. "That's really frightening a lot of people. The numbers are going up, and right now, one of the drugs of choice is crystal meth."

Morales says he's experienced the fear that comes with getting help firsthand.

"[On] September 24 of 2001, I came into these rooms with the same situation," Morales said. "My insecurity. Who's [going to] be here? Are the police [going to] be looking? Is someone taking notes to report me? You get kind of frightened."

Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez attributes the increase in substance abuse to a larger population. He says emphasizing helping people find solutions that can reduce the number of overdose deaths.

"We need to focus a little bit more on the treatment part," Dominguez said. "In order to make sure that we save some of these lives that are unfortunately being affected."

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