Prescription drug abuse in Texas is a growing and troubling trend and Texas House members have been asked to take a closer look at the issue. On January 31, Texas House of Representatives Speaker Joe Straus directed the House Committee on Public Health to study the prevalence of non-medical health impacts resulting from prescription drug abuse and recommending strategies to curb emerging substance abuse trends among Texans.
Both the Insurance Council of Texas and the Texas Association of Business support the speaker’s efforts to address the state’s prescription drug abuse problem.
“Insurers who offer work compensation coverage want to see workers benefit from prescription drugs, rather than watch prescription drugs be misused and harm Texas workers,” said Steve Nichols, manager of workers’ compensation services at the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT).
The Texas Association of Business (TAB), which formed the Coalition for Responsible Prescription Drug Use prior to the 2013 legislative session, said drug abuse among the state’s workforce poses many potential problems.
“Prescription drug abuse impacts the workplace,” said Cathy DeWitt, vice president of governmental affairs for the TAB. “Employees who are abusing prescription drugs are subject to loss productivity and can present major workplace safety issues.”
According to a recent study by Trust for America’s Health, the number of drug overdose deaths in Texas – a majority of which are from prescription drugs – increased by 78 percent since 1999 when the rate was 5.4 per 100,000. Prescription drug-related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined.
Another study, by The Drug Policy Alliance, found that between 1999 and 2007, overdose deaths in Texas increased by more than 150 percent. In 1999, 790 Texans died from a drug overdose. That number increased to 1,987 in 2007 and continues to increase.
Source: Insurance Council of Texas
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