Legislature to Consider Special Courts to Deal With Opioid Crisis

While it's not as bad as other states, the opioid epidemic is hitting Texas where, today, state lawmakers will be looking at what's working, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

The House Select Committee on Opioid and Substance Abuse will be looking at how the legal system is handling drug addiction and "Recommend solutions to improve state and local policy, including alternatives to justice system involvement, and ways to increase access to effective treatment and recovery options."

Bexar County State Rep Ina Minjares, who sits on the committee, says the effects of the opioid epidemic reach far beyond those addicted. 

"Opioid addiction has large and lasting effects on the family, friends, and communities that love and rely on those who have fallen victim. It is our responsibility as legislators to do what we can to support and better our communities here in Texas, and working to find a solution to the opioid crisis is a crucial part of that."

One of those specialty courts that will be under the spotlight today is the Bexar County Family Drug Court, led by Judge Peter Sakai.  He says it's based on the principle of restorative justice.

"Let’s quit locking people up.  Let’s quit taking their children away.  Let’s try to put them in a position to empower them, by getting them clean and sober," he says.

The program gives drug addicts specific goals with rigorous counseling as a path to being reunited to their children.  He says it's worked.  Recidivism rates are low, and support from Bexar County Commissioner's Court remains high because of its impact on jail population.

The hearing comes as opioid addiction remains high.   

A new Mayo Clinic study found that the rate of prescription drug abuse remained steady, despite increased attention to opioid abuse.  Scientific Director Molly Jeffery did the study.

"Our research of patient-level data doesn’t show the decline that was found in most previous research,” she told Mayo Clinic News Network.

The study found that, from 2007 to 2016, the opioid prescription rate held relatively steady.


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