HHSC Launches $23.2 Million Substance Use Prevention Awareness Campaign Effort

News Release
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Cecile Erwin Young
HHS Executive Commissioner
March 8, 2022
Kelli Weldon, 512-424-6951
Agency Aims To Reduce Drug Use Among Texas Youth, Families

AUSTIN – Texas Health and Human Services is launching a $23.2 million public awareness campaign to prevent substance use disorders and help Texans access necessary treatment and services.

"Substance use disorders can affect people from all walks of life and all age groups," said Sonja Gaines, HHS deputy executive commissioner for Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services. "I am excited to announce that the substance use prevention awareness campaign will help Texans learn about the signs and symptoms of addiction as well as connect people to needed services and supports for substance use."

According to a 2020 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey, an estimated 11.3 million people in Texas were living with substance use disorder.

The substance use prevention awareness campaign aims to reach about 2.5 million people in Texas focusing on reducing stigma, building community connection and resilience, and changing social norms, to prevent substance use.

HHSC awarded a $16.7 million contract to FleishmanHillard, whose campaign strategy will be informed by results from a statewide study HHSC conducted from May to August 2021. The campaign will focus on youth, young adults, and families in Texas who are most at risk, as well as community leaders who can best reach those communities.

In addition, HHSC awarded $6.5 million to The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Health Communication to develop an interactive digital tool to improve the referral process to existing substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services, and conduct research to support the development of prevention campaign messaging.

These projects are funded from the $252.8 million HHSC received in 2021 in federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant supplemental funds through H.R. 133 and the American Rescue Plan Act. SAMHSA directed states to use the funding to address local substance use disorders-related needs, improve efficiency, and improve planning and oversight of SUD prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services.

Texas residents can dial 2-1-1 to learn about programs and services.