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Newsletter: Combatting Opioid Addiction and Substance Abuse

Last month, I created a couple of new House committees to focus on issues that warrant extra attention and study before the next legislative session begins in January 2019. One of those new committees will look at substance abuse in Texas and the opioid epidemic.

The House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse will, in many ways, continue the work that was begun two years ago when we created a committee to focus on mental health issues. The new committee will study the impact of substance abuse and identify effective prevention and treatment strategies. The committee will look specifically at how substance abuse affects pregnant women, veterans, the homeless population, and Texans with mental illness, as well as those who are in the criminal justice system or have interacted with Child Protective Services. The committee will also evaluate specialty courts that focus on drug-related cases and review efforts to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs in state-administered programs.

One issue of particular concern is opioid addiction, which is a national epidemic that has had a devastating impact on much of our country. The impact of opioid addiction in other parts of the United States has become fairly well known, and it's important that we get a better handle on the prevalence of the opioid problem in Texas.

In recent years, the Legislature has increased funding for behavioral health issues. As is the case with other aspects of behavioral health, it's important that we take a smart approach that will help us control costs in the long run and limit the harmful effects of substance abuse. It's also important that we collaborate with others who are working to address this challenge, because government cannot solve this problem alone. If we take a smart and well-researched approach, we can put our resources to their most effective use and make a significant difference in Texans' lives.

You can follow the work of this new committee by visiting its web page, where you can find contact information for committee members and learn about upcoming hearings. The committee will report its findings before the next legislative session begins, and I'm confident that the work that will occur over the next year will lead to meaningful and positive results when the full Legislature meets again.