Texas House Speaker Joe Straus recently formed a new committee to study the problem of opioid addiction in Texas. The Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse is tasked with developing concrete principles and action items for lawmakers.
Republican State Rep. Four Price of Amarillo chairs the committee. He says overdose deaths in Texas are increasing, as are costs associated with addiction, including health care and criminal justice.
“There’s no question out there that we have crises occurring across the state,” Price says. “However, we recently implemented more prescription monitoring regulations, and controls with regard to pharmacies and prescribers.”
Price says his committee intends to examine the relationships among a number of entities and opioid addiction.
“There’s going to be...a whole new look at wholesale manufacturers, physicians, educational programs [and] criminal justice effects,” Price says. “I just absolutely believe that if we prioritize the issue, that there may be innovative solutions that may not have been tried, or scaled to a state level.”
In Price’s Panhandle district, methamphetamine addiction takes a heavy toll on the community, too. He says the rural nature of the area means those who use meth don’t necessarily interact with law enforcement as often as more urban residents might, meaning drug availability is likely greater. He says increases in all kinds of drug use are made possible because more ways to get high are available.
“I think scientifically, there’s more synthetic products that are being produced all the time,” Price says. “We have seen a rise in synthetic drug use over the past several years.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.