LUBBOCK, Texas — On Oct. 12, Attorney General Ken Paxton launched the “Friday Night Lights Against Opioids” coalition as well as a pilot program to put an end to opioid abuse in Texas schools.

Lubbock High School’s head football coach, Juan Rodriguez, has experienced first-hand the loss of one of his players to an opioid overdose. He said across the board in the coaching profession, coaches love and care deeply for their players and treat them like one of their own. That’s why he’s been having discussions with his team about the prevalence of opioid abuse in schools statewide.

“I have lost someone to an opiate overdose and it’s just something that hit home, Rodriguez said. “It’s emotional for me because it’s somebody that I loved and cared for tremendously.”

Lubbock ISD (LISD) is the first school district in the country to kick off this initiative.

“The whole purpose is creating education for a problem that’s taking place in the state of Texas,” said Mike Meeks, LISD executive director of athletics. “We’re proud to be a part of that.”

The Lone Star State ranks top-5 for total opioid deaths.

To combat that, the coalition will hand out more than 3 million at-home drug disposal kits, called DisposeRx, at high school football games. To permanently get rid of medication, all you need is DisposeRx powder and water which you will shake in a prescription bottle with the pills.

LISD said it will also make announcements and play educational videos throughout the games.

“Football is big in the state of Texas,” Meeks said. “It’s just an opportunity, it’s a platform, to get the message out, and we’re excited to be one of the front runners on this.” 

Coaches across the state are coming together to tackle opioid abuse. Rodriguez said he felt like he lost a son when his former player died of an overdose.  

“When you lose one, it’s like losing your own,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not something that you just get over, but you try to work with, and you try to work through, and you try to get that unfortunate experience and give somebody else an opportunity to learn from it.”

LISD said it has 3,000 DisposeRx packets to hand out. The district began handing them out at Thursday night’s game between Estacado High School and Big Spring High School. The distribution of packets will pick back up on Friday, October 28, for Monterey High School’s matchup with Coronado high school. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. at Coronado Football Field.