GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is bringing the war on opioids to North Texas on Tuesday, as people gather at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine to talk about drug abuse prevention. Sessions will be speaking at the conference for DARE, a group that is focused on drug prevention programs in schools.
Sessions has made it clear that fighting drugs will be a top priority for his office, and addiction to opioids in particular. For the last 10 years, scientists have been aware of the growing problem of opioid abuse — not only heroin, but prescription painkiller pills like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.
Two years ago, about 52,000 Americans died from drug overdoses — the most ever.
Sessions contends that the opioid epidemic also contributes to violent crime, and strong enforcement is crucial.
Francisco Pegueros is the president and CEO of DARE America. He believes that Texas should be focusing as many resources as possible on drug prevention. “I was a law enforcement officer for 26 years. I witnessed the devastation of substance abuse, whether it be alcohol or drugs,” Pegueros said. “It drains a lot of resources out of our community of citizens.”
Advocates for drug prevention said that it would be tough to distinguish which part of the U.S. has the greatest problem.
Pegueros stated that more information is needed in the community, and that starts at a young age. “It’s been well established that we are an over-prescribed society,” Pegueros said. “Prescription medications maybe are issued to people without all the due caution that might be applied to the situation and, from the perspective of the citizen, these are basically not considered harmful substances.”
“For too many years now, there’s been issues of a higher priority, and substance abuse has become second or third tier,” added Pegueros. “And quite honestly, if the public knows our leaders are concerned about something and vocalizing that concern, it elevates the awareness of everybody about the problem.”
The conference in Grapevine on Tuesday will include people who coordinate training for DARE programs in every state. This will not be the first time that Sessions has addressed a crowd about the war on drugs. He spoke to law enforcement officers at a drug summit in West Virginia back in May.
Sessions is scheduled to speak at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.