SJR 73: Joint Subcommittee Studying Strategies
and Models for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment
November 16, 2010
The fourth and final
meeting of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Strategies and Models for the
Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse was held at Youth for Tomorrow
in Bristow, Virginia.
LPC, Prince William County Services Board
Shuster described the Prince William County Community Services Board’s
Suboxone program for people with opioid dependence. The program provides
90 days of Suboxone-assisted residential treatment for people with opioid
dependence, including residential treatment for individuals in need of
stabilization. The program has served 89 clients since 2008. Early results
based on the first 16 months of program operations show that retention
rates for program participants were significantly higher than retention
rates for clients with opiate dependence who did not receive Suboxone
as part of their treatment program (73 percent as compared to 34 percent).
Recent data shows that program participants are involved with treatment
for an average of 343 days, which is close to the recommended 365 days.
Studies show that longer treatment involvement correlates with higher
rates of success and lower rates of criminal activity.
Program Director, Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program
Mr. Orr reported
on the Virginia Department of Health Professions’ study of Prescription
Monitoring Program Utilization, as required by Senate Joint Resolution
73 (2010). Mr. Orr stated that the Prescription Monitoring Program was
established in 2003, and in October of 2009 underwent several programmatic
changes, making the service available 24 hours a day through an automated
service. This change has made the program more user-friendly. At the same
time, the Department of Health Professions has increased public awareness
and education activities around the Prescription Monitoring Program, providing
educational conferences and materials to health care professionals. The
Department and Prescription Monitoring Program staff also continues to
work together with Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of
Medicine to offer an online chronic pain management course that licensed
health professionals may take at no cost to satisfy continuing education
requirements. As a result, the number of registered users has doubled
since October 1, 2009. As of the end of September 2010, the Prescription
Monitoring Program had 7,906 registered users. Between January 1 and September
30 of 2010, the Program had processed over 300,000 requests for information;
while approximately one million prescriptions are reported to the Program
Even though changes
made to the Program have resulted in increased use of the Prescription
Monitoring Program, the Department of Health Professions did recommend
several enhancements to the Program that can be viewed in their entirety
on the joint subcommittee’s website at http://dls.virginia.gov/GROUPS/subabuse/meetings/111610/materials.htm.
Abuse Insurance Parity
Battle, Bureau of Insurance, Virginia State Corporation Commission
Battle presented the Bureau of Insurance’s (Bureau) report on Data
Collection and Information on Substance Abuse Treatment Services. Ms.
Battle reported that the Bureau mailed requests for information to 798
health insurers, health service plans, and health maintenance organizations
licensed to sell accident and sickness insurance in Virginia as of August
16, 2010, and received responses from 468 companies. Of these companies,
34 companies reported issuing policies that included coverage for substance
abuse services. These 34 companies reported a total of 30 complaints,
with a total of $23,991,007 paid to settle those claims. During 2009,
the Bureau received three complaints related to substance abuse services.
The Bureau did not report any recommendations for change.
Koch, Ph.D., Exec. Director, Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, Virginia
Koch presented information on alcoholic energy drinks. Dr. Koch reported
that alcoholic energy drinks include alcohol (usually malt liquor) mixed
with caffeine and other stimulants. Premixed alcoholic energy drinks are
frequently sold in large cans containing up to 23.5 ounces of beverage,
and may contain up to 12 percent alcohol by volume. A study of consumption
of alcoholic energy drinks in North Carolina found that 68 percent of
college students reported drinking alcohol in the previous month, and
that 24 percent of college students reported drinking alcoholic energy
drinks on at least one day in the past month. Studies of consumption of
alcoholic energy drinks indicate that those who drink alcoholic energy
drinks are likely to consume more alcohol per episode of drinking, possibly
because stimulants in alcoholic energy drinks counteract the depressant
effects of alcohol and interfere with drinkers’ perceptions of intoxication.
Studies also show that individuals who drink alcoholic energy drinks are:
- More likely to
engage in risky behavior.
- Twice as likely
to binge drink.
- Nearly twice
as likely to be sexually assaulted (females).
- More than twice
as likely to sexually assault someone (males).
- Twice as likely
to get hurt or injured.
- More than twice
as likely to require medical treatment.
- Four times as
likely to drive than individuals who consume alcohol that has not been
mixed with stimulants.
In response to these
risks, Dr. Koch reported that several states have banned the sale of alcoholic
energy drinks. Others have reclassified alcoholic energy drinks as distilled
spirits. Dr. Koch and the SJR 73 work group recommended that the General
Assembly ban the sale of alcoholic energy drinks in the Commonwealth.
Alternately, the General Assembly should:
- Provide funding
to the Governor’s Office of Substance Abuse Prevention to conduct
a public awareness campaign about alcoholic energy drinks, their effects,
and the associated dangers.
- Provide additional
funding to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to conduct compliance
checks on sales of alcoholic energy drinks.
- Consider re-classifying
alcoholic energy drinks in a manner that would provide for sale of these
beverages through package stores only.
- Increase the
tax on alcoholic energy drinks to reduce consumption; funds received
as a result of this tax should be allocated to substance abuse prevention
and treatment services.
- Require warning
labels on premixed alcoholic energy drinks sold in the Commonwealth.
- Prohibit the
mixing of alcohol and energy drinks in restaurants and other establishments
that serve alcohol.
the joint subcommittee discussed recommendations developed by the SJR
73 work group and voted to adopt those recommendations. A complete list
of the recommendations adopted can be accessed through the study website.
The Hon. Emmett
W. Hanger, Jr.
of Legislative Services > Legislative
Record > 2010