Alabama House passes legislation to help veterans fighting drug abuse

Central AL Veterans Affarirs

On Thursday, a bill that aims to give Alabama veterans who struggle with pain or drug abuse the support and treatment they need, was given final approval in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Lineville-Republican state Sen. Gerald Dial and Alabaster-Republican state Rep. April Weaver both sponsored SB200, and are elated at its passage.

“Drug abuse affecting our military men and women is something we don’t talk about, but that we know exists, given what many of them have been through, it’s time we in Alabama did something about it,” said Dial.

America’s servicemen and women experience a multitude of challenges when returning to civilian life from active duty. Many silently struggle with drug abuse stemming from post-traumatic stress disorder or physical injury in the line of duty, and keep it hidden to avoid stigmatization and ridicule.

“Drug abuse amongst veterans can be a ‘silent struggle’ really, one that tears apart lives and families,” Dial added. “They are crying out for help; we just can’t hear them.”

Current Alabama law impedes the sharing of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) prescription records between the VA and outside doctors and pharmacists, as a result, veterans’ doctors and families have a difficult time recognizing duplicative prescriptions, identifying signs of abuse, and helping those at-risk get treatment.

“In order to better combat drug abuse both within the state’s veteran community and statewide across the entire population, SB200 strengthens privacy laws governing use of prescription data. For a non-VA patient, doctors and pharmacists can easily review relevant prescription records,” said Weaver, the House sponsor of the bill.

“With a veteran, neither the doctors and pharmacists at the VA, nor the doctors and pharmacists outside the VA who are also treating the patient, know what prescriptions the veteran is receiving. This bill will allow them to share that information so we can get our veterans the help they deserve.”