Narcan nasal spray at an opioid educational training class with Callie Crow, the founder of Drew's 27 Chains, on March 31, 2022, in Caddo Mills.
Photo Credit: Ben Torres for The Texas Tribune


Texas has tapped more than $45 million in federal funds to get the overdose-reversing drug into the hands of law enforcement, members of the public. But the program has been plagued by supply issues, delays and lack of communication.

After years of struggling to consistently provide the overdose-reversing medication naloxone to organizations that rely on a free supply of the medication, the state government is revamping its centerpiece distribution program.

That program, until recently called More Narcan Please, has been run by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. In February, however, following years of supply and distribution struggles, UT Health San Antonio shuttered the More Narcan Please website and shifted distribution to Be Well Texas, a separate initiative within the center that addresses substance use. It’s now branded as Naloxone Texas.

Experts say that offering consistent and reliable care and services is important to building trust with people who use drugs, particularly people who are unhoused, but the state’s inconsistent supply of free naloxone has made that difficult. Officials at UT Health San Antonio say they have improved distribution and communication in recent months.

Delays and unpredictable supply

After the Texas Health and Human Services Commission launched the Texas Targeted Opioid Response in 2017, the state began offering free naloxone to individuals and organizations, including law enforcement agencies, recovery centers and community-based groups working with people who use drugs. The effort is funded by federal grants that have so far sent a total of $45.47 million to Texas. In 2019, HHSC began contracting with UT Health San Antonio to use those funds to purchase and distribute naloxone and conduct training about how to administer the medication.

In its early days, More Narcan Please was able to quickly ship large amounts of naloxone, delivering pallets of medication to harm reduction organizations at the forefront of combating opioid overdoses. Harm reduction is a strategy for providing services to people who use drugs without attaching stigma or strict parameters and involving people who use drugs in planning and implementing that strategy.

But as demand grew, the program struggled. In 2022, it ran out of money; HHSC said that was due to a shortage of the much cheaper injectable version of naloxone. In the fiscal year ending last August, the agency renewed funding to UT Health San Antonio, but More Narcan Please limited organizations to 48 doses and asked them to request more only after those had been distributed.

Distribution has also been unpredictable. At the end of last year, after experiencing long delays for small deliveries of naloxone, harm reduction organizations suddenly received large deliveries courtesy of More Narcan Please, leaving many wondering why shipments had not come sooner. In January, More Narcan Please said it would take between 14 and 45 days to process requests for naloxone. Some harm reduction organizations said they ran out of the state-provided naloxone while waiting for more doses.

UT Health San Antonio said that it made changes earlier this year that addressed those delays, and naloxone is now shipping much more quickly.

Groups handing out the naloxone say the lack of clear communication about when the drug was available made it hard to plan their own distribution strategy.

“A lot of the time when we'd put an order in it would take weeks,” said Bret Flores, executive director of the DFW Harm Reduction Access Movement, a grassroots organization that provides education and resources to people who use drugs. When his organization did receive shipments, “it was just very small quantities,” Flores said.

Naloxone, known under the brand name Narcan, is available as a nasal mist over the counter for about $40. One box contains two doses. But experts say the cost and stigma associated with drug use means many people who use opioids are unlikely to walk into a pharmacy and purchase it. The first person to respond to an overdose is most likely someone who uses drugs or their family member, and free distribution to those populations is considered one of the best ways to reduce opioid overdoses.

The Texas Harm Reduction Alliance, which provides resources and services to people who use drugs, offers naloxone at its drop-in center in Austin, where it also provides education, counseling, wound care and necessities like personal hygiene products and clothes. Last year, the group distributed nearly 13,000 doses of naloxone. After delays from More Narcan Please, the alliance began receiving naloxone from the city of Austin and Travis County.

Mike Prado, the Abilene-based director of West Texas Harm Reduction, distributes naloxone across a swath of the state that stretches about 200 miles. He used to rely heavily on More Narcan Please. In an interview last year, Prado said he was getting about 90 percent of his naloxone from other organizations that donated expired doses, which remain viable long after the expiration date.

“We used to get a nice chunk of naloxone from More Narcan Please,” Prado said. “Then I don’t know what happened.”

Revamping Narcan distribution

Since Be Well Texas took over naloxone distribution in February, shipping to organizations requesting bulk orders is now happening within about five days, said Jennifer Sharpe Potter, UT Health San Antonio’s vice president for research and Be Well Texas’s executive director. Individuals can still request two-dose boxes by filling out a form on the Be Well Texas website.

“I am aware that individuals have expressed concern about the rapidity with which they receive naloxone,” Potter told Texas Community Health News. “This is life-saving work, and we want to make sure that people get naloxone as quickly as possible.”

UT Health San Antonio’s contract with HHSC requires it to distribute at least 120,000 doses a year. with a focus on “individuals that are most likely to experience or respond to an opioid overdose, as well as organizations that directly serve individuals who are most likely to experience or respond to an opioid overdose.”

The contract also directs UT Health San Antonio to implement a “county-level saturation approach,” which HHSC defines as ensuring that every county has 20 times as many doses of naloxone as it does recorded overdoses.

UT Health San Antonio’s contract expires in August and the state is expected to announce who will continue administering naloxone distribution in September.

When More Narcan Please initially launched, about 40 percent of the naloxone it distributed went to law enforcement. Last year, Texas Community Health News found that some recipients of state-funded naloxone were destroying expired doses, although More Narcan Please was encouraging them to donate it to other groups that would use it.

In recent years, UT Health San Antonio began asking recipients not to give away naloxone at conferences and stopped distributing to pharmacies. In its request for the new contract, HHSC instructed applicants to outline a plan for redistributing older doses before they expire, sidestepping any restrictions on handling expired doses.

Flores, with the DFW harm reduction group, said he’s seen an improvement this year, not just in how quickly naloxone is delivered but also in communication. When Naloxone Texas warns him it will be shipping a smaller amount of naloxone, he can make sure he has another source lined up.

“At least now they're letting us know ahead of time we’re not going to get the full order,” Flores said.

Last year, the state expanded its naloxone access programs. The Texas Division of Emergency Management began distributing $75 million in naloxone, provided by a pharmaceutical company as part of a legal settlement with the state government, to county sheriffs.

While the state government has said naloxone access is a key component of its response to opioid overdoses, it has been slow to use state funds to buy the medication. This year marks the first time Texas will be using state funds for the distribution of naloxone after years of relying on federal grants. The Texas Comptroller’s Office, which oversees a $1.6 billion opioid abatement fund generated by legal settlements with pharmaceutical companies. The comptroller’s office is currently accepting proposals for a program that would distribute $18.75 million in naloxone statewide and another $3.13 million for naloxone distribution in counties of less than 100,000.

And last year the Legislature directed an additional $18 million for UT Health San Antonio to purchase naloxone in 2024 and 2025. Those funds have fewer parameters, and Potter said that gives her program flexibility to meet demand, because she can direct applicants who aren’t a priority for one program to the other.

“We have greatly increased the output of naloxone being distributed and been able to fulfill the requests that have come through our door,” she said.

Jason Buch is an Austin-based freelance journalist who works with Texas Community Health News, a collaboration between the Texas State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the university’s Translational Health Research Center.

Listen to the full interview here.

Jennifer Sharpe Potter, PhD, MPH, wants UT Health San Antonio’s Be Well Institute on Substance Use and Related Disorders to be the best substance use disorder institute in the world.

Jennifer Potter, PhD, MPH is Vice President for Research and Founding Director of UT Health San Antonio's Be Well Institute.
Jennifer Potter, PhD, MPH is Vice President for Research and Founding Director of UT Health San Antonio's Be Well Institute.

"And we're going to do that by developing the very best treatments," she said. "We're going to do that by being a model and a beacon for stigma free, education and service delivery, because every life is worth saving."

Be Well Texas is already revolutionizing how substance use disorder is treated in Texas. "The first thing it's going to sound different is it's outpatient. And it also is different because it's virtual," she said.

This makes services accessible to more people in every corner of the state.

"For something that can be so stigmatizing, the privacy and the safety that's afforded to you when you're doing a telehealth visit or a video visit is actually lowering the barrier to entry into treatment," she said.

Potter wants the institute to advance our understanding of substance use disorders and how to best treat them. For example, they’re testing an app they hope will improve outcomes for those in treatment for opioid use disorder.

"We use science to anchor, and then we act practically and locally, and we try to understand people's struggles and lower the barriers for them to get the help they need," she said. "Because no one should die alone from a preventable condition. And this is preventable."

Science & Medicine is a collaboration between TPR and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio that explores how scientific discovery in San Antonio advances the way medicine is practiced everywhere.

The city’s health department on Thursday received hundreds of thousands of dollars to address opioid addiction and overdoses in San Antonio through 2025.

Also on Thursday, City Council approved $909,000 in opioid settlement funds — the first allocation of millions of dollars from opioid lawsuit settlements funneled to cities and municipalities — for the Metropolitan Health District to use over two years on substance abuse and harm reduction initiatives.

The dollars come as San Antonio continues to reel from overdose rates, largely driven by methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl poisoning. 

San Antonio anticipates it will get more than $6 million from the settlements, paid out over 18 years, but some funds could be cut, or eliminated, due to pharmaceutical companies declaring bankruptcy.

Here’s how Metro Health plans to use the $909,000: $434,000 will be used for substance use outreach and community capacity building initiatives; $175,000 for harm reduction supplies and Narcan kits; $150,000 for targeted provider education to address stigma for pregnant people with addiction or in recovery. Only $100,000 will go to medical treatment for street outreach clients. Metro Health also plans to use $50,000 to create a substance use resource portal. 

Jennifer Sharpe Potter, founding director of the Be Well Institute on Substance Use and Related Disorders in San Antonio, said the need to mitigate opioid deaths is urgent, but so is the need for treatment.

“We can’t treat someone who is dead,” said Potter, who also is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UT Health San Antonio.

But those who live with addictions and survive overdoses will often develop substance use disorders, and evidence-based treatment infrastructure needs to be available, she said. 

Potter, a national expert in opioid use disorder and researcher on prevention and treatment, said the landscape for addictions in San Antonio has changed over the years to include stimulant use disorders caused by drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine, often involved in San Antonio’s overdose deaths.

“If we focus the settlement dollars only on opioids, we are missing what we truly need to do to address substance use morbidity or mortality in our community because the landscape has changed,” she said.

Currently, San Antonio isn’t at a capacity to receive people who could benefit from substance abuse treatment, Potter said. 

The opioid settlement funds could help fill that gap, at least for street outreach clients in San Antonio. Metro Health plans to partner with the research-focused Addiction Research Institute, Bexar County, Center for Health Care Services, Corazon Ministries, San Antonio Nexus Connection, St. Luke Baptist Church and the Texas Harm Reduction Alliance to do that. 

Most of the partners “work closely to refer or connect people with treatment services provided by other organizations,” said Cleo Garcia, public information officer for Metro Health. 

Potter said teens are particularly at risk, as they have “no access to treatment.”

“We do not have access in San Antonio, nor do we have that access in Texas for adolescent [substance use disorder] treatment. We have support services, but some young people will need treatment.

At the Be Well Texas Clinic, a UT Health San Antonio clinical program that Potter oversees, people under 18 call, but the treatment isn’t available, she said. Organizations like the San Antonio Recovery Center and Rise Recovery also don’t offer treatment, but the Center for Health Care Services refers teens to other options — like Complex Care at CommuniCare, which has one counselor which focuses on substance use disorders — depending if they have insurance or not.

The clinic is bringing an adolescent addiction medicine specialist to San Antonio, a possible first for the city, she said. 

“This very young, very vulnerable group of individuals that are relatively new to substance use … are at risk for death but also at risk for a lifetime disorder that is life-threatening,” she said.

The health department will also present a proposed resolution to designate drug overdoses as a public health crisis in San Antonio and a follow-up on the distribution of funds at the City Council’s June 5 Community Health Committee meeting.

Bexar County’s plans

Bexar County has received about $14.4 million in opioid settlement dollars. It has allocated $3.4 million, with $11 million remaining. 

In March 2023, a fund policy framework for spending the money included prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery, evaluation and administration. 

At a March 12 Commissioners Court meeting, Andrea Guerrero-Guajardo, director of the Bexar County Preventative Health and Environmental Services Department, said the county has allocated $1.5 million to the Casa Mia project, a recovery home for mothers and their children recovering from substance abuse disorders; $95,000 went to hiring a substance use program coordinator; more than $47,000 went to purchasing Narcan for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office; and $1.7 million funded the Center for Health Care Services contract for the 2024 fiscal year. 

Bexar County in March put a call out to organizations interested in applying for funding. Funding awards to area agencies will be presented to commissioners later this year. Organizations focused on Bexar County’s fund policy framework, including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery and evaluation, will be considered. 

The focus on drug overdoses comes from the death rate for opioids in Texas, which has “increased dramatically” over the past 15 years, Metro Health said; It’s now at more than four deaths per 100,000 population in Texas.

Garcia said the rate is higher in Bexar County: Today, there are more than five deaths per 100,000 residents living in Bexar County. In 2022, more than 2,000 people died from fentanyl in Texas — more than five a day.

Metro Health said 246 overdose deaths were reported in Bexar County in 2021.

Applications for the funding are available online through May 28.

UT Health San Antonio is studying an app that it hopes will improve outcomes for people being treated for substance use disorders. The app is called KIOS, and Dr. Jennifer Sharpe Potter described it as a prescription digital therapeutic.

“Which is a long way of saying this could be something that's essentially prescribed by a doctor,” she said.

Potter is the founding director of UT Health San Antonio’s Be Well Institute on Substance Use and Related Disorders, which includes Be Well Texas.

“The app is intended to help you stay in treatment, help you navigate if there are issues or complexities in how you're feeling. It helps with mood and other issues like that,” she explained.

This app is a home-grown product, Potter added.

“This is something that was developed here locally in San Antonio,” she said. “We're testing it here in San Antonio at the clinic and, depending on the results, will be able to introduce that in the marketplace."

Potter is recruiting people locally to participate in a clinical trial. They will use the app as part of their treatment for substance use disorder.

“If it works and then be able to submit to the FDA that this is something that a health care provider could prescribe,” she said.

Learn more about the clinical trial, including how to enroll, here.

Watch full interview here.

Be Well Texas project manager Daniela Olmos was interviewed about the Community Wellness Fair of Be Well Texas in this news segment.

Contact: Steven Lee, (210) 450-3823, lees22@uthscsa.edu

SAN ANTONIO, May 8, 2024 – Be Well Texas, a statewide substance use treatment initiative of UT Health San Antonio, will host its second annual Community Wellness Fair on Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Mission County Park 1 in San Antonio.

The free, family-friendly event will offer a variety of wellness activities, local resources, services and information to enhance the community’s health and well-being. State Rep. Elizabeth “Liz” Campos, District 119, will be the featured guest speaker.

Campos, as well as Jennifer Sharpe Potter, PhD, MPH, vice president for research at UT Health San Antonio and executive director of Be Well Texas; and Tara Karns-Wright, PhD, MS, senior director of Be Well Texas, will be available for interviewsDaniela Olmos, project manager at Be Well Texas, can provide Spanish-language interviews from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. the day of the event.

“By attending this event, our community can gain a deeper understanding of the impact substance use has on health, quality of life and relationships,” Karns-Wright said. “Be Well Texas will provide resources, and our staff will be on hand to answer questions and offer support. The whole community is invited, especially people dealing with substance use or mental health conditions.”

Mission County Park 1 is located at 6030 Padre Drive in San Antonio, 78214.

Scheduled Activities and Entertainment

11:30 a.m. – Welcome ceremonyJennifer Sharpe Potter
11:40 a.m. – Guest speaker, State Rep. Elizabeth  “Liz” Campos
Noon –
 Zumba, sponsored by instructor Robyn Tate
1 p.m. – HIIT workout, sponsored by AlfaFitness
2 p.m. – Group meditation, sponsored by BioThrive Wellness
2:30 p.m. – Door prizes

All-Day Activities

• Local community and wellness organizations with resources and information
• Pet therapy by Therapy Animals of San Antonio
• Food distribution by San Antonio Food Bank
• Overdose reversal training and naloxone (Narcan®) distribution
• Hygiene kit distribution
• Live music

Free Medical Screenings

• Substance use screenings by Be Well Texas
• Wellness health checks by UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing
• Vision screenings by Lions Sight Research Foundation
• HIV and STI testing by Alamo Area Resource Center
• Diabetic screenings by District 2-A2 Lions Clubs

All activities and screenings provided at no charge
.

Be Well Texas expands access to compassionate, evidence-based treatment for people who use substances and those with a substance use disorder.

It is part of UT Health San Antonio, a premier academic research center whose mission is to make lives better through excellence in education, research, health care and community engagement.


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, graduate biomedical sciences and public health have graduated more than 42,550 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.

View the full interview here

The City of Austin is seeing the biggest opioid overdose spike in over a decade. At least 9 people have died so far and the batch of deadly drugs is prompting concern amongst the I-35 corridor, including San Antonio.

“This means is that if someone were to take the same amount of fentanyl as if they were if they thought it was heroin, they're much more likely to overdose,” said Dr. Tara Karns-Wright, Senior Director of Be Well Texas.

Dr. Karns-Wright said the overdoses in Austin can likely be linked to a batch of drugs, most likely fentanyl, disguised as different drugs.

According to Dr. Tara Karns-Wright, there hasn’t been a significant spike in opioid overdoses in San Antonio yet but they’re keeping a close eye after what was unleashed in Austin.

“We always say it's better to be safe than sorry and so we always recommend that everyone always have Naloxone on hand,” said Dr. Karns-Wright.

Dr. Tara Karns-Wright said it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the worst with opioid reversing drugs. Because there is no supply shortage right now, Dr. Tara Karns-Wright said there’s no reason to not have the lifesaving drug on hand.

“It's always great to have it on hand, even if you're not sure if you're likely if you're likely to work with folks who have are likely to suffer from an overdose,” said Dr. Karns-Wright.

We reached out to several school districts in San Antonio, a spokesperson for the Northeast Independent School District tells us the district hasn’t seen increased overdoses and all campuses are equipped with NARCAN.

We also reached out to all major universities. The University of Incarnate Word sent us a statement that reads:

“The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) makes student safety a high priority. As such, the university has for years now maintained 17 easily accessible and strategically placed stations on the Broadway campus with Narcan. In addition, in keeping with best practices, all Resident Assistants in the dormitories and select personnel are trained to administer the drug.”

Trinity University tells us there’s a new initiative that is about to roll out, saying in part:

“Trinity's Narcan distribution and education program—an initiative Trinity's Student Health Services has been partnering with students on—is nearing rollout pending review by University administration.”

Pioneering initiative advances research, treatment, recovery support and education

Contact: Steven Lee, (210) 450-3823, lees22@uthscsa.edu

SAN ANTONIO, April 3, 2024 – The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) is establishing the Be Well Institute on Substance Use and Related Disorders, a pioneering initiative dedicated to advancing research, education and evidence-based treatments.

The new institute includes the current Be Well Texas initiative of UT Health San Antonio as part of a new overall comprehensive center of excellence with national scope for research, clinical and public health programs, as well as education and community engagement to advance the field addressing addiction and related conditions.

The goal of the Be Well Institute is to be a nationally premiere substance use and addiction institute for clinical care and research to advance the understanding of substance use.

The institute will support grants and contracts, partner with organizational entities at UT Health San Antonio whose activities are relevant to these priorities and provide person-centered, interprofessional and comprehensive care. It also will launch clinical and translational research programs to significantly advance the understanding of substance use to scientific discovery and into daily practice more quickly to improve health and reduce sickness and death.

“This institute will lead transformational change in addressing substance use and substance use disorders throughout Texas and the nation,” said Robert A. Hromas, MD, FACP, acting president of UT Health San Antonio.

“We support the discovery, development and implementation of new treatments, or more effective use of current treatments, and this important effort will facilitate the recruitment of outstanding scientists and clinicians to UT Health San Antonio,” he said, “accelerating collaboration among scientists, educators and clinicians to discover, validate and implement new treatments, and serve as a vehicle for partnerships among stakeholders in the community to include scientists, providers and policymakers.”

UT Health San Antonio is the largest academic research institution in South Texas with an annual research portfolio of $413 million. Spearheaded by Be Well Texas founding director Jennifer Sharpe Potter, PhD, MPH, vice president for research at UT Health San Antonio, the new institute marks a significant milestone in UT Health San Antonio’s commitment to addressing the complex challenges posed by substance use.

It will provide compassionate and transformational care of people who use substances and those with substance use disorder (SUD) – or co-occurring mental health disorders – through innovative research, local networks and engagement, thereby removing stigma and supporting recovery for patients, their families and communities.

A highly integrated, collaborative center

With more than $50 million in National Institutes of Health, state and other federal funding annually, the Be Well Institute will work as a highly integrated and collaborative center across the university and represent a comprehensive framework and programming for advancing the understanding and treatment of substance use disorders.

Through a diverse array of statewide initiatives, including the Be Well Provider Network, the Be Well Clinic, the Center for Substance Use Training and Telementoring, and the Texas Substance Use Symposium, the institute seeks to expand access to services and support for Texans and beyond.

With support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network and other federal funding, the institute includes research, medical interventions and evidence-based treatments, psychological therapies, social and peer support, counseling on lifestyle changes, follow-up care, provider training and education, and many community outreach and educational initiatives.

Substance use is a significant public health problem that includes several challenges, from the illicit use of substances that have been available for centuries, such as opioids,  to drugs that have appeared more recently, like synthetic cannabinoids. Substance use and other mental health disorders worsened significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Substance use among many mentally ill patients also increased during that time as many sought to self-medicate.

Although opioids are most prominent in news headlines, the most problematic drugs of abuse in some regions of the United States, including South Texas, are not opioids, but alcohol, marijuana and stimulants like methamphetamine. Alcohol use is a major contributor to morbidity, including cancer, and mortality. The rate of alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. doubled from 1999 to 2017.

There currently are no FDA-approved medications for treating substance use disorder outside of opioids and alcohol. Thus, the exploding use of stimulants and marijuana represents a vast unmet medical need.

The worsening overdose epidemic exemplifies the desperate need to improve prevention and treatment of SUD through research and programmatic efforts. An unprecedented 107,000 Americans died in 2022 from drug overdose, the highest rate ever recorded.

Often lost in the national discussion of this medical crisis is the fact that this dramatic increase in opioid use and overdose occurred despite the availability of FDA-approved medications that are effective in many patients: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone for opioid use disorder (OUD) and naloxone for opioid overdose. Discovering and advancing new and innovative approaches for treating opioid overdose and OUD is a critically important endeavor.

Investigators at UT Health San Antonio are conducting state-of-the-art research exploring novel approaches for understanding SUD that will uncover new targets and new methods for treatment.

Similarly, UT Health San Antonio faculty are at the forefront of addressing SUD statewide, including establishing statewide treatment networks, workforce development initiatives and distribution of life-saving naloxone to traditional and non-traditional first responders. Collectively, what is available at UT Health San Antonio is unique in Texas and ready to be expanded nationally.

About Jennifer Sharpe Potter

As a nationally recognized public health scientist and practitioner, Potter leads the state in groundbreaking research and treatment aimed at mitigating addiction, substance use disorders and related disorders. Her expertise spans the development, dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices to support individuals grappling with substance use disorders.

In her role as vice president for research at UT Health San Antonio, Potter provides strategic oversight over the institution’s research initiatives, ensuring the university’s continued pursuit of excellence in scientific inquiry and innovation. Her leadership also extends to pivotal roles as principal investigator of UT Health San Antonio’s Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Clinical Trials Network (CTN), underscoring her commitment to advancing the frontiers of substance use research.

Prior to joining UT Health San Antonio, Potter was with Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Georgia and her Master of Public Health from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.

“The launch of the Be Well Institute heralds a new era of collaboration and innovation in the field of substance use research and care,” Potter said, “and stakeholders from across the academic, health care and public sectors are encouraged to join us in this vital endeavor as we strive to improve the lives of individuals and communities affected by substance use disorders.”


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, graduate biomedical sciences and public health have graduated more than 42,550 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.

The UT Health San Antonio Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine is listed among U.S. News & World Report’s best medical schools, ranking in the top 30% nationwide for research. To learn more, visit https://uthscsa.edu/medicine/.

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

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

View full interview here.

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.

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.