One of my focuses in the Legislature has been to combat drug addiction. First, by empowering law enforcement to catch drug distributors, but just as importantly, supporting our treatment centers. Two years ago, I was able to get "synthetic" marijuana added to the list of banned substances. My office received countless calls from parents and community members worried about the epidemic. I was also proud to receive the Lone Star Award from the Association of Drug Treatment Professionals for helping to keep our drug treatment centers open.

Now, the National Governor's Association (NGA) is joining the fight by launching an initiative to fight against prescription drug abuse. This is a real crisis in this country, with 78 people dying each day due to opiods. These are prescription painkillers and rate high among the drugs abused. According to an NGA press release, nearly 30,000 Americans die each year from the misuse of prescription painkillers and heroin.

This effort is a multi-part strategy involving, doctors, state legislatures and treatment facilities. The program calls on doctors to use prescription drug monitoring programs as a way to identify abuse and offer better treatment. This includes continuing education for doctors that prescribe opiods with updated training and guidelines. Another important piece is prioritizing treatment centers for those with this disease. Millions of Americans go untreated because of lack of resources, including physicians trained in this area. Working together, we can treat this disease and save lives.