ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- The deaths of 5 young men in Abilene in the past 6 weeks are being investigated by the Abilene Police Department with Drug Overdose as the suspected cause of death.
Though we do not know much about the circumstance of these young men, one Abilene woman came forward to share her experience on the topic having lost 9 friends and family due to both intentional and accidental overdose.
“It is an addiction which is extremely sad because we can become addicted to many things, but drugs….they’re hard to kick” Says Tiffany Pannell
Pannell grew up in Houston at a time when drugs and death were no secret. She was only 14 when she got a firsthand experience with the grief and shock an overdose can bring.
“My friend in High school was probably my first (experience with) overdose. It was an overdose suicide……It broke me because it wasn’t something that I ever thought a friend would do.” Said Pannell
Her main goal now is to reach out to the younger generations with a message of advice and caution. In hopes that her harrowing experiences need not be repeated.
“My friends and people that I cared about they’d done it 100 times over, so to them they were 10 foot tall and bullet proof….Until they weren’t.” Says Pannell.
Jacq Jones and Cindy Frazier work for the Abilene Recovery Council. For the past 30 years they have worked to lessen the impact and frequency of abuse and deaths resulting from drug use in Texas.
Most recently they have installed prescription Drop-off boxes at several locations around Abilene. Keeping drugs meant only for one time use out of the streets.
“We’ve seen quite a few of these different things happen over our counties and to know that it’s actually now in our hometown is very devastating” Says Jones.
Other efforts have resulted in lowering the amount and size of prescriptions written in Taylor county through a prescription drug monitoring program. A program that has had noticeable success.
“We had 99 prescription schedule 2 drugs* given out for every 100 residents in Taylor County. Since then in 2019 it was down to 61 prescriptions per every 100 residents.” Says Data Coordinator for the Abilene Recovery Council, Cindy Frazier.
But before getting to such a dire situation, experts and those with experience agree, Education and support are the best key to prevention. Know what drugs to look for and make an effort to be present for the people you care about.
“Take the time to make the time to put kindness and love into putting kindness and love into somebody else’s life. You may prevent that overdose, you may prevent that suicide you may prevent them from wanting to go to drugs” Said Pannell.
*drugs with a high abuse risk, but also have safe and accepted medical uses in the United States. These drugs can cause severe psychological or physical dependence. Schedule II drugs include certain narcotic, stimulant, and depressant drugs. Some examples are morphine, cocaine, oxycodone (Percodan®), methylphenidate (Ritalin®), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®). Via Pharmacy.Texas.GOV