WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The Rotary Club of Southwest Wichita Falls partnered with several local agencies to host a public panel discussion in hopes of raising awareness, and lowering the number of deaths and overdoses.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, in 2021 alone, more than 107,000 Americans died from a drug poisoning or overdose, in which two-thirds of those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids, like Fentanyl. Stats that Marketing and Development Manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters Jean Hall said can’t be ignored.

“A lot of people are frightened about Fentanyl but they might not know how to process what they see and they might not know facts. They may be hearing rumors so we wanted everyone to know what exactly is happening with Fentanyl in Wichita Falls and what do we need to do about it,” Hall said.

Several guest speakers took the stage to discuss what’s being done to combat the Fentanyl problem here locally, including Wichita Falls PD Chief Manuel Borrego, who said this topic can’t be talked about enough.

“It’s just killing people and it’s affecting disproportionately affecting our youth. I’m not saying that older people don’t take this but our youth are taking these counterfeit pills,” Borrego said.

With more than 20 deaths this year alone here in Texoma, Hall said discussing this issue with your children is the first step in combating the problem.

“When kids hear something, they don’t necessarily believe that it’s real or they might not think that it’s going to affect me. So parents need to be talking to their kids and sharing this information with them so they know how dangerous it is because they might think ‘oh I can take whatever drugs’ they know people that are taking drugs and they’re okay, but this drug is different because one pill can kill you,” Hall said.

And when it comes to law enforcement, Borrego said they can’t fight this battle alone.

“This isn’t just a police problem. Our schools understand it, our community groups understand it, and parents, so we’re coming together as one so that we can address this issue with Fentanyl,” Borrego said.

Creating a citywide team to battle this deadly drug and getting it off the streets.

With Narcan being more readily available, Sober Living of Wichita Falls is hosting free Narcan training classes, to ensure proper use of the life-saving drug.

For more information on those classes, click here.