LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – As cars zoom by on Lufkin's Loop 287, one state trooper says it may surprise you what's really behind the wheel in some of the vehicles.
"You've got enough problems with alcohol, so now you've added another problem here and that's prescription pills," said Trooper Greg Sanches with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
East Texas law enforcement officers say a growing number of drivers are under the influence of prescription drugs.
In his 28 years with the Texas highway patrol, Sanches said he's never seen it this bad.
"Sometimes you might run across the illegal drugs whether it be marijuana or the hard-type drugs, cocaine, but very few of those, not near what you're seeing now," said Sanches.
It's a pattern one local counseling center has picked up on.
"There seems to be a very dangerous trend of individuals drinking alcohol and then taking pills to enhance the high or stay high longer," said Executive Director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council Phyllis Grandgeorge.
ADAC polled about 1,000 clients and found that prescription pills are the third most abused substance. Grandgeorge said it's a scary reality for those on the road.
"When people are driving under the influence of alcohol, that's a huge worry and then when you combine that with pills you know the danger is significantly increased," said Grandgeorge.
DWI citations are issued for impaired drivers and Sanches made it clear, you can get a DWI for being on prescription pills.
If troopers suspect you're under the influence, Sanches said they'll get a warrant to have your blood drawn.
Grandgeorge said parents can help put the brakes on the growing trend.
"Parents need to know what's in their home and check their shelves to make sure it's not being used by their adolescent or teenager," said Grandgeorge.
Officers said education is the best way to attack the problem.
Grandgeorge warns combining prescription drugs and alcohol can be a deadly combination, especially when you don't know how your body will react to the pills.
If you or someone you know needs help with this problem call the crisis hotline at 1-800-392-8343.