It’s little secret that Texas stands right alongside the rest of the United States in its constant and overwhelming battle to combat opioid abuse within its borders. Between the flow of prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone; the widespread prevalence of pure heroin originating from the Mexican border; and the exponential increase in the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl throughout the state, Texas continues to lose more and more of its residents to this pervasive public health crisis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 2,588 Texans died from drug overdose in 2015, 1,186 of which were directly attributable to opioids. In an effort to fully understand and ultimately curb opioid addiction in Texas, a newly assembled House Committee is examining possible causes and remedies to the problem.
What’s Causing Opioid Addiction in Texas?
Commissioned by Texas House Speaker Joe Strauss and chaired by Republican State Representative Four Price, the committee aims to examine the origins of opioid addiction in Texas while looking at the escalating costs and roadblocks associated with treatment. Pointing to recent reforms enacted by the Texas legislature, including heightened monitoring and regulation of prescription painkillers, Price says his committee specifically intends to examine the relationships among a number of entities and opioid addiction, including manufacturers, physicians, law enforcement, educational programs, etc. They are looking for innovative solutions not yet explored to curb the problem. Price’s district of Amarillo has also been heavily hit by meth trafficking and abuse. Many communities in East and Central Texas are going after drug companies that they claim are pushing opioids, in an effort to affect some kind of institutional change and keep their residents safe.
A Macro Approach to a Complicated Issue
The instinct to examine the various different layers of opioid addiction in Texas is spot-on, however, it might be easier said than done. Factors like over-the-border trafficking, opportunistic medical professionals and drug manufacturers, and even personal tolerance and metabolism are all playing a profound role in the Texas opioid crisis. The Committee has an opportunity to present findings and methodology that can inform national solutions and policy, including everything from treatment protocol to community best practices. In a climate in which many communities and stakeholders believe that opioid addiction in Texas and the rest of the US is past the point of no return, they have a herculean task ahead of them.