How Texas kicked its big drug problem

A decade ago, Texas had a serious drug problem.

Psychotropic medications — like antipsychotics, stimulants, mood stabilizers, antidepressants and sedatives — were being overprescribed in the state’s foster care system, endangering the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens and costing the state millions.

But this is a success story. In recent years, Texas has dramatically reduced the use of psychotropic drugs in foster care. And understanding how we successfully tackled this issue may serve as a roadmap for solving other pervasive public policy problems.

The problem first burst onto the agenda in 2004 when then-Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn released “Forgotten Children,” a report that found too many foster children on too much medication.

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