Austin Overdose Crisis 75 CASES Reported in 3 Days, FENTANYL and COCAINE Detected

Austin Overdose Crisis: 75 CASES Reported in 3 Days, FENTANYL and COCAINE Detected

Texas officials are looking into an “outbreak” of opioid overdoses in Austin after emergency services reacted to dozens of cases from Monday to Wednesday, resulting in the presumed deaths of nine people.

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services responded to 75 overdoses between Monday and Wednesday evening, according to EMS Division Chief Angela Carr at a news conference on Wednesday. According to Travis County spokesperson Hector Nieto, the medical examiner’s office has confirmed that nine cases of suspected overdose deaths are under investigation.

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According to Nieto, preliminary toxicology findings showed the presence of fentanyl in nine cases, cocaine in eight, and methamphetamine in three. City authorities initially met on Tuesday to give information on the suspected overdose inquiry.

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Assistant Chief Steve White said emergency responders received more than 50 overdose-related calls by Tuesday morning, marking the city’s deadliest overdose outbreak in nearly a decade. This represents a 1,000% increase in overdose emergency calls in a single day.

During a news conference Tuesday, White stated that Austin had not seen such a high volume of overdoses since 2015, when K2, a synthetic cannabinoid, struck the city. Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services receives one to two overdose calls per day, according to White.

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According to the latest recent data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 106,000 persons in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2021. fatalities from synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, increased in 2021 to 70,601 overdose fatalities.

“Over the past two decades, the United States has experienced a growing crisis of substance abuse and addiction that is most starkly illustrated by the rise in deaths from drug overdoses,” the State Health Access Data Assistance Center stated. “Since 2000, the annual number of overdose deaths from any kind of drug in the U.S. has multiplied nearly six times over, rising from 17,500 to over 106,000 people in 2021.”

Overdose Cases in Austin Tapered Down This Week

Overdoses have decreased since the start of the week. Carr stated at the news conference Wednesday that emergency workers attended to seven overdoses on Wednesday, compared to 37 on Monday and 27 on Tuesday, indicating that overdoses were reducing daily.

Before last week’s sharp increase in instances, EMS Capt. Christa Stedman stated that the agency has observed overdose “numbers trend at least a little bit downwards.” Stedman stressed that opiate use disorder and overdoses impact people of all races, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds equally.

Authorities originally stated that overdose emergency calls began in downtown Austin at 1 a.m. Monday and expanded throughout the city until 4 a.m. Tuesday. According to White, many people were found in cardiac arrest on Tuesday.

According to Austin Police Assistant Chief Eric Fitzgerald, patients ranged in age and demographic, with none under the age of 18. The majority of calls came from downtown Austin, including companies, apartments, and public locations.

“There were patients that were unhoused; there were patients that were housed,” White stated. “There were patients in their workplace and in public places. It was not limited to a certain geographic area.”

During the inquiry, the medical examiner discovered an overdose that occurred at 9 p.m. Sunday was forgotten and was not included on the list of deceased until later, according to Nieto.

On Wednesday, Stedman stated that many people were not attempting to take an opioid. Patients had been using K2, crack cocaine, Xanax, and various other drugs.

She credited paramedics and community partners’ efforts to “flood” the city with Narcan, an opioid overdose antidote, for saving many lives this week. Carr reported that more than 400 Narcan kits had been given by Wednesday afternoon.

“We have seen a number of cases where Narcan has been administered by civilians before we get there, and either the person is awake and is recovering, or they’re well on their way to recovering,” Stedman stated. “We’ve actually seen a couple of cases where they’ve recovered fully and walked away before we got there.”

Austin Police Have Identified Two Persons of Interest

The Austin Police Department declined to disclose any details on the investigation, citing the need to maintain the probe’s integrity, but did say it had identified two people of interest.

On Tuesday, Austin police Lt. Patrick Eastlick stated that the agency detained these two people in downtown Austin on Monday and charged one with felony handgun possession. He said that other charges were pending. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Assistant United States Attorney’s Office are assisting police in their investigation.

People found guilty of trafficking fentanyl might face charges of murder or manufacturing or delivering a controlled narcotic that causes death or serious physical injury, according to Eastlick.

To fight the issue, a new Texas legislation created tiered felony charges for making, delivering, or trafficking fentanyl. The statute allows for murder charges to be filed against guilty parties, with a potential term of life imprisonment.

In a joint statement with Texas Against Fentanyl, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office advised people “to remain vigilant and aware of the dangers posed by fentanyl.”

The statement encouraged locals to have “open and honest conversations with family members, particularly teenagers, about the risks associated with fentanyl and other dangerous drugs.” Increased awareness and education are essential for averting future injury and loss of life.”

The US Opioid Pandemic

According to RAND research published in February, more than 40% of Americans knew someone who died as a result of a drug overdose. According to RAND, more than 109,000 persons in the country died from drug overdoses in 2022, and over 1.1 million have perished since 2000.

According to the State Health Access Data Assistance Center, opioids, such as heroin and prescription medications, account for the vast majority of drug overdose deaths. However, in recent years, synthetic opioids like fentanyl have become more common in drug overdose instances.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl has a potency up to 50 times that of heroin and 100 times that of morphine. Recent fentanyl-related overdoses have typically been linked to illegally manufactured fentanyl.

According to the CDC, it contributes significantly to both fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the United States. “Over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.”

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration announced that more than 17.9 million fentanyl tablets had already been seized in 2024. In 2023, the agency collected more than 78.4 million fentanyl-laced pills and nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder, totaling over 376.7 million fatal doses of fentanyl.

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