Hundreds of healthcare professionals attend the 6th Annual Texas Substance Use Symposium in Austin.

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SAN ANTONIO – Hundreds of healthcare professionals are meeting in Austin this week to discuss this issue and focus on identifying challenges and solutions for substance use disorders.

“We want to save lives, but we also want to make sure that everyone that wants treatment can get access to treatment and that the treatment services that they receive are evidence based. So the educational component of the symposium is very important,” said Dr. Adrienne Lindsey, assistant professor and director of the Center for Substance Use Training and Telementoring for Be Well Texas.

Dr. Lindsey is attending the 6th Annual Texas Substance Use Symposium, which will take place from Feb. 29 to March 1, 2024, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Austin.

“We’ll certainly have maybe a little more emphasis on opioid use disorder and stimulant use disorder, particularly because we’re seeing a lot of overdoses in that area right now,” Dr. Lindsey said.

The symposium draws hundreds of healthcare providers, behavioral health professionals, peer recovery specialists and even law enforcement.

“We are still seeing an increase in overdose rates in Texas,” Lindsey said. “About a 7% uptick in the last 12 months. So, we had almost 6,000 overdoses in the last year. Fatal overdoses.”

Dr. Lindsey works at Be Well Texas, a statewide substance use disorder treatment program of UT Health San Antonio.

The center also conducts research and provides education and training for providers.

“There’s still a lot of challenges around substance use disorders as a whole. Certainly, treatment access can be a challenge,” Dr. Lindsey said.

She said provider education is also a challenge, and there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding this topic.

While the challenges may differ across parts of Texas, Dr. Lindsey hopes people can learn from each other at this year’s symposium.

“I would love to be a part of getting us to a point where substance use disorders are treated like other health conditions, and people know they can go to their doctor or go to the hospital, and be treated with dignity and respect and get that evidence-based care,” Lindsey said.