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Devin Mathieu suggests a recipient for a package containing life-saving supplies with his partner Claudia Dambra in their apartment on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. The two collect and distribute “rescue kits” containing information, test strips, canvas pouches, syringes, breathing masks, gloves and naloxone in two forms, intramuscular and nasal spray.

Texas bans many proven tools for helping drug users. Advocates are handing them out anyway.

As overdoses skyrocketed amid the pandemic and the fentanyl crisis, advocates across the state are working discreetly to distribute these supplies as part of a practice to combat substance use disorder known as harm reduction.

Claudia Dambra prepares a “rescue kit” of life-saving supplies for drug overdoses in her apartment for a woman in need who reached out over Instagram on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.

A way to help 

Claudia Dambra writes a note after preparing a package of life-saving supplies in her apartment for a woman in need who reached out over Instagram on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.
Claudia Dambra points to a wall of photos of friends she has lost to overdose in her apartment on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. Dambra adds halos to pictures and displays them all over her space
Claudia Dambra shows supplies for intramuscular naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.

An overdose crisis

A photo of Cassandra Saldivar hangs in the living room as Patricia Hammad talks to her grandson Ace at their home in Arlington, TX  on August 31, 2022. Cassandra Saldivar died at the age of 22 from taking a Xanax laced with deadly fentanyl.
Photos of Cassandra Saldivar hang in the living room of her mother’s home in Arlington, TX on August 31, 2022. Cassandra Saldivar died at the age of 22 from taking a Xanax laced with deadly fentanyl.
Patricia Hammad gets help from her 3-year-old grandson Ace with a temporary tattoo in their home in Arlington, TX on August 31, 2022.

A skeptical state 

Kirby Jack adjusts her cap after sorting through safe use supplies in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. (Emil Lippe for The Texas Tribune) (KIRBY JACK USES THEY/THEM PRONOUNS — PLEASE ADDRESS ACCORDINGLY IF RUNNING IMAGE)

A risky undertaking

Kirby Jack hands out safe use supplies to people on Gould Street in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. (Emil Lippe for The Texas Tribune) (KIRBY JACK USES THEY/THEM PRONOUNS — PLEASE ADDRESS ACCORDINGLY IF RUNNING IMAGE)
A fentanyl test kit lies on a box in the storage unit of Kirby Jack in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. (Emil Lippe for The Texas Tribune) (KIRBY JACK USES THEY/THEM PRONOUNS — PLEASE ADDRESS ACCORDINGLY IF RUNNING IMAGE)
A box of safe use supplies at Kirby Jack’s storage unit in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. (Emil Lippe for The Texas Tribune) (KIRBY JACK USES THEY/THEM PRONOUNS — PLEASE ADDRESS ACCORDINGLY IF RUNNING IMAGE)

“They deserve better”

Claudia Dambra writes a note after preparing a package of life-saving supplies in her apartment for a woman in need who reached out over Instagram on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.

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