The Texas Harm Reduction Alliance is dedicated to ending the drug war, mass incarceration and homelessness in Texas. We do this by building the power of low-income people directly impacted by these issues.
Texas is experiencing the worst overdose death crisis in history
The CDC estimates that over 5,000 Texans are dying of a drug-related overdose each year and fentanyl-related deaths rose 399% in 2021. Increased isolation during the pandemic and soaring cost of living has created more precarious conditions for Texans, contributing to rising rates of overdose, homelessness and increased needs for services and care.
Every overdose death is preventable
To prevent these deaths, Texas needs to invest in proven public health strategies: Access to life-saving supplies and care – including harm reduction drop-in centers, medication assisted treatment, housing,transportation and a living wage. Punitive strategies will only cause more people to die.
End the Drug War and Build an Infrastructure of Harm Reduction to Address the Overdose Crisis
HB 753, HB 2775
Decriminalize drug paraphernalia
Texas’s paraphernalia law targets people who use drugs, prohibiting possession or distribution of life-saving supplies such as fentanyl testing strips and sterile syringes. By removing punitive sanctions, we also create room for harm reduction programs to engage people who use drugs in services, and help them stabilize their lives.
HB 224, HB 987, HB 1365, SB 623, SB 868
Authorize drug checking tools including fentanyl test strips
Drug testing tools such as fentanyl testing strips are an affordable and effective way to prevent overdoses. Texas’ paraphernalia law prohibits the possession and distribution of these life-saving overdose prevention supplies; removing testing and analyzing from the criminal code will put overdose prevention tools into the hands of people most at risk of overdose.
Authorize more harm reduction programs across the state
Harm Reduction (HR) is an approach to working with people who use drugs by meeting the person where they are and supporting them on their path to recovery. HR focused on reducing mortality, HIV and HCV infections, hospitalizations and incarceration. In the few communities where HR programs exist in Texas, they reverse 500 - 700 overdoses each year, and connect hundreds of people to recovery coaching, housing and treatment. Texas should expand its pilot program and create HR programs in more counties
throughout the state.
Expand the 911 Good Samaritan Law
Remove the current exceptions to the law so no one is afraid to seek emergency medical attention during an overdose.
Stop the criminalization of homelessness and repeal HB 1925
We have 25,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in Texas. Encampment sweeps continue to drive harm and risk of overdose death across Texas communities. Highly vulnerable people are displaced, their belongings are destroyed, and they are pushed further from life-saving services. Rather than criminalizing someone for trying to survive on the streets, Texas could offer housing, services and care. Supportive housing breaks the cycle of homelessness by pairing permanent housing with on-site services for people with a history of substance use, and/or who have mental and physical health needs. Supportive housing is widely seen as the most cost-effective strategy proven to solve homelessness for those with the greatest needs. A recent study found that enforcement of the camping ban costs taxpayers $31,000 per person per year, while permanent supportive housing costs only about $10,000.
In addition to the $33 billion surplus dollars, Texas will receive $1.6 billion from the opioid litigation settlement funds over the next decade. This session, we have a unique opportunity to invest significantly in overdose prevention strategies that work.
Invest state dollars in expanding access to Narcan and drug checking tools, prioritizing community-based distribution ($3 million).
Fund community-based harm reduction programs in seven Texas cities ($9.1 million).
End the waiting list and expand access to care for substance use disorders – particularly medications like methadone and buprenorphine for people who use opioids and detox.
Fully fund and create 15,000 units of permanent supportive housing this biennium.