We are now in a fourth wave of the epidemic that shows no sign of slowing down.

Watch full interview here

SAN ANTONIO — The opioid epidemic is ravaging the entire U.S. including here in south Texas. Two organizations have teamed up to battle a local surge in opioid overdoses, The Center for Health Care Services, or CHCS, and Be Well Texas' office-based opioid treatment services, or OBOT.

Dr. Jennifer Potter, the Executive Director of Be Well Texas told us, "Unfortunately, now we're approaching the fourth wave of the opioid epidemic, which includes methamphetamine and other stimulants that are also contributing to the deaths that we're seeing." 

Dr. Christopher Healey, the Medical Director of CHCS added, "In the years 2020 and 2021, the number of overdose suspected related deaths basically doubled in those years compared to what they had been in 2018 and 19." 

The latest Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration drug use survey by Curednation.com analyzed the rates of illicit drug use in every state across the U.S. They found that Texas had the lowest percentage of people 18 and up reporting illicit drug use in the past month out of all 50 states. 

Just how many? 9%, which is below the national average of 10.47%. But that is still a lot of people. Dr. Potter added, "Because our population is so large, that number of nine of percent of them reporting illicit drugs, that would mean two million people in Texas are using illicit drugs." 

So what do you do if you think someone close to you could have a problem, but not be seeking help? Dr. Healey said, "Try to gather persons who are close to that individual to try to come together and kind of speak in one voice, encouraging that person to seek help." 

He also told us that you should come prepared with resources if you are going to approach someone about their drug addiction, so they could take action right there, or very soon after.

Watch full interview here

SAN ANTONIO - For months now, we’ve been bringing you stories about the opioid crisis and the initiatives to combat drugs in our state.

The new efforts include a $10 million awareness campaign, as well as state laws passed to promote drug education in schools.

"My daughter’s death was not an accident she unknowingly took something that had fentanyl in it," says mother Veronica Kaprosy.

We brought you this story last September, Danica Kaprosy died after taking what she thought was a sleeping pill laced with Fentanyl. Since her death, her mother has been pushing state officials to get tougher on drug dealers.

"One life is being lost in death, and the other life will be lost in prison drug dealers as young as 17, 18 that’s a loss of life as well," says Kaprosy.

Over the years 2019 to 2021, overdose deaths involving Fentanyl in the state rose nearly 400%. But passing Fentanyl-related laws like HB 6, which would let prosecutors pursue murder charges in Fentanyl deaths is helping bring illicit drug use down in the state.

“If we don’t talk about it people won’t know,” Tara Karns-Wright, PhD, Senior Dir. of Be Well Texas UT Health San Antonio.

Karns-Wright says aggressive campaigns like One Pill Kills or laws that increase awareness of the dangers of drug overdoses in schools help spread awareness to students.

“It is really important that we're putting that programming into schools and educating our kids and making sure that these risks exist," says Karns-Wright.

These numbers show that statewide Fentanyl poisoning-related deaths have increased since 2014, but you can see a dip from 2022 to 2023. Karns-Wright says talking more about the dangers of drugs should help bring those numbers down more.

"The way we talk about it is a chronic health disorder just like having high blood pressure or diabetes it's just really important we keep talking about it and we keep the message well known to everyone,” says Karns-Wright.

Listen to the full interview here.

You may have heard of Dry January or Sober October, but now a new trend on TikTok is bringing new light to maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Although not a new idea, it's called the "damp" lifestyle. The damp lifestyle involves strategies to cut down on alcohol intake without doing away with drinking entirely.

On this week's edition of Weekend Insight, Jerry Clayton talks about the damp lifestyle with Dr. Curtis Bone, a board-certified addiction medicine physician and an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Psychiatry at UT Health, San Antonio.

Clayton: This so-called damp lifestyle may not be for everyone. Who would best be suited for this kind of behavioral change?

Bone: Cutting down on alcohol use is similar to cutting down on cigarettes and [eating] unhealthy food. It's going to benefit people that engage with those things. And the people that are heavily engaged with them have the most to gain by making changes. So heavy alcohol use is a level that increases likelihood of problems.

According to The NIAAA [heavy drinking] involves five or more standard drinks per day, or 15 more drinks per week for a man and for a woman four or more drinks per day, or eight or more drinks per week.

So, people that are drinking near or above those levels or even at lower levels that want to improve their sleep quality, enhance energy, optimize their body composition or cognitive performance, and reduce risk of liver disease, heart failure, depression, motor vehicle accidents, and all the other issues that ride along with alcohol can all benefit from transitioning to lower levels of use.

Limiting ourselves can provide noticeable benefits pretty quickly.

Clayton: What type of person would not be suited to the damp lifestyle?

Bone: You know, it's important to realize not everyone has the same physiology or life circumstances. So, there are various biological, psychological and social issues that might make even low levels of alcohol use unsafe for someone. Someone with an underlying liver condition, people who take medications that have dangerous interactions with alcohol, like opioids, for example, people who are pregnant or become pregnant.

And then people that are planning to drive or do something that requires a high level of coordination. They could have a really unfortunate consequence, even with low levels of alcohol exposure. Folks with mental illness like depression, people with impulse control issues, or a substance use disorder, someone that's lost control can be triggered by low levels of alcohol.

Clayton: What are some easy ways to think about how to cut back your alcohol intake?

Bone: One of the first questions I ask my patients is what they love because the best way to change behavior is to set attainable goals and then plan a process to achieve them that's safe, enjoyable and aligns with their big picture goals in life. Avoiding a sense of deprivation is another key, which may be, honestly, one of the reasons why the idea of a low risk or low risk drinking, or damp drinking is appealing to people.

So, we set a goal and then I advise people to make a list of the things they love doing and go to that list for alternatives to alcohol in moments of tension when they have an urge to drink but really don't want to drink.

And then if there are situations that create tension like a social gathering, or an event that someone wants to attend, that's going to involve alcohol, a lot of people explore mocktails. They'll set a timer, so they won't have to think about when they'll have a next drink or focus on a separate health goal during that time, like increasing water intake.

Clayton: What advice do you have for people who are having a really hard time cutting back on their alcohol intake?

Bone People try to reduce use and struggle with that. They should realize they're not alone. It's more common than they might imagine. And actually, more than 29 million people across the country struggle with alcohol, and there are a lot of avenues they can pursue for support. So, they can talk to a primary care doctor or get connected to an addiction medicine physician.

And we take a very individualized approach to helping people attain whatever goals they have for themselves. So, it's never too late to look for help, never too soon, though, to take a look at our lives and ask ourselves, you know, are the things that I'm doing just giving me what I want or are they giving me what I really want?

We want folks to really get what they're after in life and make sure alcohol's not holding them back.

View the full K-SAT interview here.

Moms who lost children started the walk, which is now bringing hundreds to Brooks City Base

SAN ANTONIO – It’s the first of its kind in San Antonio — a walk to remember those lost to fentanyl poisoning and a rally to stop it from happening.

KSAT has introduced viewers to the local mothers who lost children and, in turn, planned this event in the name of one of those children. The organization is called Forever 17, Danica’s Foundation.

Now, the focus is on the leading recovery experts speaking on Saturday, intending to make big changes with education and breaking the stigma.

“Substance use disorders can happen to anyone. This is a phenomenon that happens in my family. I am well aware of that. I am one of the lucky people because I have not lost a person,” said Dr. Jennifer Potter, the vice president of research for UT Health San Antonio, and executive director of its Be Well Texas program.

Dr. Potter is a renowned expert on substance use disorder, but she also understands it on a personal level.

“Moms and parents shouldn’t be the ones having to raise awareness. Our system needs to do better. Parents who are grieving should be able to grieve,” Potter said.

At Saturday’s Soles Walking for Souls event, Potter will speak on behalf of Be Well Texas, the UT Health San Antonio program offering science-based recovery options across the state.

Be Well Texas offers a long list of resources, regardless of a client’s ability to pay.

As the executive director and vice president of research, Potter is laser-focused on education for the community as well as those with substance use disorder.

“There is a poisoned drug supply right now in Texas. That if they’re using a substance and they don’t know where they got it from, that substance likely contains fentanyl,” she said.

Once people understand the problem, they can talk more openly about it.

“Stigma kills. We know people do not seek or ask for help because they are afraid of the consequences of asking for help, and that can end their life,” Potter said.

It’s also about knowing the options for prevention.

“The importance of fentanyl test strips, and everyone should be carrying naloxone,” Potter said.

Be Well Texas partners with 140 organizations across the state. Locally, a big one of those is the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Awareness, or SACADA.

“One pill can kill. People need to know that, and they’re taking a gamble with their life,” said SACADA CEO Abby Gilmore.

SACADA provides free and confidential support to people with substance use disorder and their families.

“Help a family walk through the process. Do they need treatment? Do they need medication? Do they need a residential place to be? Whatever the family needs in regards to opioid use, we are there to meet them there and help,” Gilmore said.

SACADA also works closely with kids.

“We go to schools, and we do presentations. We work with kids long term the whole semester, provide education to young people -- elementary, middle and high school. We work with colleges and universities,” Gilmore said.

The goal is to prevent deaths in the next generation.

Gilmore echoed Potter in emphasizing the importance of carrying naloxone, with the brand name Narcan, that can reverse an opioid overdose.

“We encourage families to purchase it or call us for free Narcan. These medications can be bought now over the counter or can be even received from our agency at no charge,” Gilmore said.

Both experts are thrilled that Saturday’s event will include naloxone training.

“At the event, we want to celebrate that we are a community that wants to do prevention. How do we prevent losing lives at all ages, at all stages?” Gilmore said

Potter said it boils down to honesty about gaps in the system and true collaboration.

“That involves schools, that involves Be Well Texas, SACADA, everyone. There are a lot of isolated programs doing good work. But if we don’t talk about the fact that there are gaps in the system, we are going to continue to lose lives. Get everybody in the same room and focus on solving the problems collectively and collaboratively,” she said.

Potter and Gilmore said Saturday’s event is a good place to start.

The Soles Walking for Souls Fentanyl Awareness Walk is Saturday, October 14, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Greenline on Brooks City Base.

There will be federal, state, and local government officials, food vendors, naloxone training, a mile walk, and a candlelight vigil.

KSAT’s Courtney Friedman will be emceeing the event.

Head to the Soles Walking for Souls website or the KSAT Community page to register.

If you or someone you love is suffering with substance use disorder, there are cost friendly and even free options:

The number for Be Well Texas is (888) 85-BEWELL or (888) 852-3955.

To get resources from SACADA, call (210) 225-4741.

Texas Takes on Addiction: An Overview

The battle against drug addiction is an ongoing struggle in the United States, with various strategies employed across the nation to combat this crisis. Texas, in particular, is taking a unique approach in its efforts to aid recovery by using unconventional ‘harm reduction’ strategies. The state has been granted an $800,000 award from the Biden administration to further these efforts. However, the strategies used by the drug recovery groups in Texas have sparked a heated debate.

Controversy Over ‘Harm Reduction’ Strategies

Interestingly, one aspect of the harm reduction approach employed by the drug recovery groups in Texas includes the distribution of crack pipes. The intention behind this strategy is harm reduction rather than active encouragement of drug use. The essential idea is to provide a safer means for those who are unable to abstain from drug use, hence reducing the risk of injury or transmission of diseases.

While this approach is seen by some as a realistic and pragmatic method in dealing with drug addiction, others view it as a controversial move that may inadvertently promote drug use. This has led to a significant debate on the effectiveness and morality of such an approach.

Expansion of Recovery Housing

In addition to harm reduction strategies, Texas is also focusing on providing support for recovery housing. The Be Well Texas program, run by UT Health San Antonio, has been awarded a three-year $3.4 million grant. This grant aims to support recovery housing statewide for young adults aged 18 to 25 who are undergoing treatment and recovery.

The funding will be used to expand access to 16 existing housing providers, providing more than 40 houses and 440 beds across the state. The recovery houses aim to provide a safe, supportive environment for those seeking long-term recovery from substance use disorders. The hope is that by meeting the housing needs of these young adults, they can focus on other aspects of their recovery and overall well-being.

Research Efforts at the University of Texas at Austin

Beyond the strategies employed by recovery groups, research is also being conducted at a university level to better understand and treat addiction. The University of Texas at Austin is part of an international research coalition aiming to find improved treatments for alcohol addiction. This includes studying the genetic aspect of alcoholism and exploring additional treatment options.

The Need for Sustainable Recovery Measures

The ongoing drug addiction crisis underscores the importance of innovative and sustainable recovery measures. While unconventional strategies such as the distribution of crack pipes may be controversial, they reflect the desperate need for new approaches to combat the high rates of drug addiction.

Meanwhile, initiatives like the recovery housing program offer a more traditional approach to aid recovery, focusing on providing a stable living environment to support long-term recovery. As research continues into the causes and treatments of addiction, it is clear that a multifaceted approach is necessary to effectively address this complex issue.

Just before kickoff, DeSoto High School Head Football Coach Claude Mathis was recognized with the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Unsung Coaching Heroes Award presented by Be Well Texas.

Coach Mathis, representatives from Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, Be Well Texas and members of the media, met at the 50 yard line for the award presentation. Coach Mathis was selected as 1 of 14 coaches in the state to be recognized with the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Unsung Coaching Heroes Award presented by Be Well Texas. As a part of the recognition, Coach Mathis was presented with a commemorative award and Be Well Texas donated $1,000 to the DeSoto football program in Coach Mathis’ honor.

Be Well Texas and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football have partnered together to recognize coaches across Texas with the 2023 Unsung Coaching Hero Award. Just as these coaches are making a difference in their community, Be Well Texas is working to make a difference too. Be Well Texas at UT Health San Antonio is a statewide program for all Texans seeking help with substance use or mental health concerns. Their caring, compassionate staff provide convenient access (in person or virtually) to high quality, evidence-based treatment and services to people regardless of their ability to pay.

For more than 63 years, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football has been “the bible” to millions of football fans across the Lone Star State. The annual summer edition of the magazine remains a rite of passage for all Texans, previewing every football team in the state — from the rabid world of Texas high school football, through the college ranks, and into the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans. Over the course of six decades, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football remains the undisputed leader in Texas high school football, Texas college football and more.

TexasFootball.com is the online home of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, covering high school football, college football and recruiting across the Lone Star State. From thought-provoking commentary to videos, podcasts and daily live show, nobody covers football in Texas like TexasFootball.com.

Be Well Texas is a statewide program of UT Health San Antonio which provides virtual and in-person treatment for substance use and related mental health concerns. The Be Well Texas mission is to improve access to high-quality, low-barrier, evidence-based care throughout Texas for any who need it. Be Well Texas’ team of addiction medicine specialists, behavioral health experts, and people with lived experience in recovery, work tirelessly to provide convenient treatment (in person or virtually) that meets people where they are on their path to recovery.

To learn more, call 888-85-BeWell or visit BeWellTexas.org.

The recognition occurred on Friday, September 15, 2023 at the Eagle Stadium in DeSoto, TX where the DeSoto High School Football team played against Skyline. The final score: DeSoto 42, Skyline 17.

More than half of all opioids sold on the street have enough fentanyl to kill, the DEA said.

To watch the full KENS-TV interview, click here.

SAN ANTONIO — South Texas is an opioid epidemic hot bed, with the location so close to Mexico where much of the illegal and deadly drugs come from. We look into the epidemic, with today being marked as a day to spread awareness about this exponentially growing problem.

More than one out of every two opioids sold illegally has enough fentanyl to kill you. That's why today's International Overdose Awareness Day is so important. Thomas Mangiamele the acting special agent in charge of the San Antonio DEA District Office told us, "What our DEA laboratory has told us is that approximately 60% or six of every ten pills that we seize have a lethal dose of fentanyl in them." 

As of 2021 the CDC says there were over 107,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States. That is an increase of 15 percent since the year 2020. Two out of three of those deaths involved synthetic opioids. The majority of which are fentanyl.

Dr. Rachel Broussard is a psychiatric and addiction nurse practitioner at Be Well Texas, a program of UT Health San Antonio offering treatment and recovery support for substance use and mental health, regardless of ability to pay.

"Local clinics are overwhelmed because it's in so many substances, all opioids, but especially fentanyl," she said. 

In 2020 about 284 million people had used a drug in the past 12 months. That is one in every 18 people aged 15 to 64. That number is up 26 percent since 2010. Opioids account for roughly 60%of drug overdose deaths. With the number of people using opioids has doubled from about 31 million people in 2010 to more than 61 million in 2020. And the DEA has seized a tremendous amount of the deadly drug. 

"The DEA laboratory where we send all our drugs has told us that is enough fentanyl to kill every person in the United States. More than every person, approximately 380 million people," Mangiamele added. 

"It's a ripple effect across not only the immediate parents, siblings, family members, school classmates, but the local medical community that's having to respond to these, especially the overdoses and deaths of so many people," Broussard said.  

Tonight at 6:30 Be Well Texas and UT Health San Antonio will hold a vigil at 620 E. Dewey Place, the Biomedical Development corporate offices, for the victims of those who have overdosed on opioids. They can ask questions, and even get free naloxone. 

Officials from UT Health San Antonio and Be Well Texas, a program offering treatment and recovery support for substance use and mental health, gathered April 20 to celebrate the grand opening of a northwest San Antonio facility that provides comprehensive services statewide.

According to a news release, the new 20,000-square-foot center at 5109 Medical Drive also conducts research and provides education and training for providers.

Be Well Texas officials said 1 in 10 people in Texas have a substance use disorder, but not everyone has the same access to care. The treatment and recovery services offered by Be Well Texas are provided regardless of one’s ability to pay. Be Well Texas is also a UT Health San Antonio initiative.

“We started these programs to provide equitable access to compassionate, evidence-based programs for substance use disorder and people who are using substances,” said Jennifer Sharpe Potter, executive director of Be Well Texas, in a statement. “Evidence-based treatment means treatment with the best possibility of success because we know from science that it works.”

Be Well Texas officials said they bring addiction medicine specialists, behavioral health experts, researchers and several staff members with lived experience in addiction recovery together at this new northwest San Antonio location to collaborate statewide and expand access to care.

The new location includes in-person and telehealth clinical space, a research laboratory, a tele-mentoring studio, administrative offices, a spacious waiting area and other features, the release said.

“So, through a combination of community-based providers, our own virtual clinic that serves the state, and a variety of programs and a lot of hard work, we’re able to provide these services throughout Texas,” said Potter, who also is vice president of research and professor of psychiatry at UT Health San Antonio.

Briseida “Bee” Courtois, substance use services director at Be Well Texas, said her organization has a team of providers, clinicians, nursing staff, case management and recovery support services who can help an individual no matter where they are in their journey.

Overall, in addition to its in-person and statewide telehealth clinical operation, Be Well Texas coordinates a network of approximately 140 community providers treating for opioid and other substance use, and providing recovery support services across Texas, the release said.

People who work Be Well Texas’ recovery support services have experienced substance use or mental health conditions, or both, and are now providing critical peer-level support.

“I’ve experienced incarceration, I’ve experienced homelessness, I’ve experienced challenges with substance use and mental health, and how to overcome those things,” said Richard Hamner, Be Well Texas’ program manager of recovery support services. “So we use that experience along with our education and training to help build the resources that individuals need to improve their lives.”

And in research, Be Well Texas is conducting cutting-edge trials to find new treatments for substance use disorders, including for cocaine-use and methamphetamine-use disorders. Plus, the program is conducting two clinical trials for medications that could help individuals curb their withdrawal symptoms from cannabis use.

Hours of operation for Be Well Texas’ center in northwest San Antonio are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, call 888-85-BeWell (888-852-3935).

Telehealth, community providers, research all key components of care
Contact: Steven Lee, (210) 450-3823, lees22@uthscsa.edu

SAN ANTONIO, April 20, 2023 – In Texas, one in 10 people have a substance use disorder, and not everyone has the same access to care. One statewide program is addressing this growing public health concern with a fresh approach of science, innovation and a team of people with lived experience in recovery.

Be Well Texas, a program offering treatment and recovery support for substance use and mental health, is celebrating the grand opening of its new 20,000-square-foot facility that provides for comprehensive services anywhere in the state, regardless of ability to pay. The center also conducts research and provides education and training for providers.

“We started these programs to provide equitable access to compassionate, evidence-based programs for substance use disorder and people who are using substances,” said Jennifer Sharpe Potter, PhD, MPH, executive director of Be Well Texas. “Evidence-based treatment means treatment with the best possibility of success because we know from science that it works.”

Be Well Texas is bringing addiction medicine specialists, behavioral health experts, researchers and several staff members with lived experience in addiction recovery together at this new location to collaborate statewide and expand access to care. The new location includes in-person and telehealth clinical space, a research laboratory, a tele-mentoring studio, administrative offices, a spacious waiting area and other features.

“So, through a combination of community-based providers, our own virtual clinic that serves the state, and a variety of programs and a lot of hard work, we're able to provide these services throughout Texas,” said Potter, who also is vice president of research and professor of psychiatry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio).

State-supported Be Well Texas is a program of UT Health San Antonio.

“We have a team of providers, clinicians, nursing staff, case management, recovery support services – a wide array of services that can help an individual no matter where they are in their journey,” said Briseida “Bee” Courtois, MSSW, LCDC, CMA, director of substance use services for Be Well Texas.

Overall, in addition to its in-person and statewide telehealth clinical operation, Be Well Texas coordinates a network of approximately 140 community providers treating for opioid and other substance use, and providing recovery support services – from Dallas-Fort Worth to Corpus Christi, Houston to El Paso, Lubbock to Austin, and points beyond.


In recovery support services, team members have lived experience with substance use or mental health conditions, or both, now providing critical peer-level support.

“I’ve experienced incarceration, I’ve experienced homelessness, I’ve experienced challenges with substance use and mental health, and how to overcome those things,” said Richard Hamner, LMSW, LCDC-I, RSPS, program manager of recovery support services for Be Well Texas. “So we use that experience along with our education and training to help build the resources that individuals need to improve their lives.”

And in research, Be Well Texas is conducting cutting-edge trials to find new treatments for substance use disorders, including for cocaine-use and methamphetamine-use disorders. Plus, the program is conducting two clinical trials for medications that could help individuals curb their withdrawal symptoms from cannabis use.

“The mission of Be Well Texas research is to leverage our science in order to address gaps in treatment for opioid-use and other substance use disorders, and ultimately to improve the lives of people in Texas,” said Tara Karns-Wright, PhD, senior director of Be Well Texas.

The new facility is located at 5109 Medical Drive, fourth floor, in San Antonio, 78229.  Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 888-85-BeWell (888-852-3935), or visit the Be Well Texas website at https://bewelltexas.org/.

Be Well Texas is working to provide access to high-quality, low-barrier, evidence-based care throughout Texas. A statewide program of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio), Be Well Texas provides services to people who use substances and with a substance use disorder through a broad continuum of clinical, research and training services. This includes facilitating a network of state-funded addiction treatment providers, serving as a node for the NIDA Clinical Trials Network, operating a statewide telehealth clinic for the treatment of substance-use disorders and managing a statewide tele-mentoring and training center. Like us on social: @bewelltexas. Learn more: https://bewelltexas.org/.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) is one of the country’s leading health science universities and is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. With missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement, its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have graduated more than 41,100 alumni who are leading change, advancing their fields and renewing hope for patients and their families throughout South Texas and the world. To learn about the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit UTHealthSA.org.

Stay connected with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram and YouTube.

'Be Well Texas' is expanding its recovery services thanks to a multi-million dollar grant.

To watch the full KENS-TV interview, click here.