From Where We Are

Organization works to prevent drug overdose and harm amongst students

The organization has spread to multiple universities across California

[One-sentence description of what this media is: "A photo of a vaccine site on USC campus" or "Gif of dancing banana". Important for accessibility/people who use screen readers.]

The Trojan Awareness Combatting Overdose organization, also known as TACO INC is a harm reduction educational organization grounded by science.

TACO INC provides students with subsidized and rapid access to Fentanyl Test Strips. With fentanyl overdose-related deaths increasing 30% within one year, fentanyl is becoming a growing topic across the country. For Madeline Hilliard, the executive director of TACO, INC it’s time to take action.

Madeline Hilliard: We started with five people. We now have 26 volunteers on the team. As a team, we’ve built this up to where there’s a problem and it’s related to drug use and harm reduction, and we’re able to immediately deploy a solution.

In light of the recent drugging and sexual assault allegations against members of the Sigma Nu fraternity, Hilliard highlights the importance of fast distribution to protect college students.

Madeline Hilliard: When this happened last week and you know, the number of reports coming out from so many girls, I made the executive decision. This is happening now. We will figure out the paperwork later. This is something that needs to happen.

As a growing non-profit, TACO INC doesn’t have the funds to distribute endless test strips to everyone. At this time, test strips are provided solely based on level of toxicity.

Madeline Hilliard: With these drug tests we’re really trying to tackle issues like an order of what is the most damaging that we can provide a solution to and kind of go down the list from there.

TACO INC has been increasing their fundraising efforts to increase distribution of Fentanyl test strips, but also for benzodiazepines aka benzo, which tests for a broader range of drugs.

Madeline Hilliard: We’ve been actively ramping up our fundraising efforts to be able to cover these benzo test strips, too, because we want to make those as financially accessible to the student bodies as possible.

Hilliard hopes that students experimenting with drugs will consider reaching out to TACO INC to practice safe drug use.

Madeline Hilliard: If they use the test strip and it comes back positive as far as reporting, that’s obviously up to them. But if it does come back positive, hopefully they will report it and then we can start to remove some of this predatory behavior from the USC community.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Kyla-Drew Simmons