DALLAS — Abigil Alvarez was only 18 years old when she died from fentanyl overdose.
Her father, Adolph, believes a fentanyl test strip could have saved her life.
“I don’t want this to ever happen to anybody else’s family,” he told WFAA.
Adolph is in favor of decriminalizing the test strips, which are currently illegal under Texas law. The strips are inexpensive pieces of paper that can tell a person whether the drug they’re about to take contains fentanyl.
Democratic State Senator Nathan Johnson is one of several lawmakers pushing to legalize the strips this session.
“We have a very unproductive prohibition on something that could save lives,” Johnson told WFAA.
In the past, similar proposals have failed. Opponents argued allowing a person to test one drug for another effectively condoned drug use.
“To the contrary!” Johnson said. “We want people to get past this episode in their lives when they are using drugs. But they can’t do it if they’re dead.”
Johnson believes that’s why support for strips has surged. More people, he told WFAA, now understand how deadly fentanyl is. And how many people, especially children, take it unknowingly.
“An OxyContin pill, or an Adderall pill, a lot of those pills are laced with fentanyl,” said Dr. Scott Walters.
Walters is a professor who studies opioid reduction.
“Communities that distribute [the test strips,] in general, see reduced rates of overdose,” he said.
Governor Greg Abbott is among the politicians who used to oppose the strips but now supports them.
“Before, there was pushback, including from myself,” Abbott told reporters at a news conference in Houston in December 2022.
“I think there’s a better understanding that lives are at risk.”
Johnson’s bill is bipartisan, co-authored by Republican Senator Bob Hall.
Johnson, Walters and Abbott all agree that the test strips are just one part of combating the crisis around fentanyl.
Legislatures in other states, like Mississippi and Kentucky, just recently passed legislation legalizing the strips.