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HomeNewsTennessee Governor, Commissioners announce Strategic Plan To Tackle Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

Tennessee Governor, Commissioners announce Strategic Plan To Tackle Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

State of TennesseeNashville, TN – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam joined Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) Commissioner E. Douglas Varney and others today to announce “Prescription for Success,” the state’s plan to prevent and treat prescription drug abuse in Tennessee.

Prescription drug abuse is a pervasive, multi-dimensional issue impacting Tennessee individuals, families, and communities. Of the 4,850,000 adults in Tennessee, it is estimated that nearly 5 percent (about 221,000) have used pain relievers, also known as prescription opioids, in the past year for non-medical purposes. Of those, it is estimated that 69,100 are addicted to prescription opioids and require treatment for prescription opioid abuse.

“Tennessee has a serious problem with prescription drug abuse, and this widespread and complex issue demands coordinated solutions,” Haslam said. “‘Prescription for Success’ is a comprehensive, multi-year strategic plan that will involve different agencies across state government to reduce the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs so Tennesseans can live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.”

A number of strategies have been developed to meet the following seven goals of the “Prescription for Success” plan to fight this epidemic.

Seven Goals

  1. Decrease the number of Tennesseans that abuse controlled substances.
  2. Decrease the number of Tennesseans who overdose on controlled substances.
  3. Decrease the amount of controlled substances dispensed in Tennessee.
  4. Increase access to drug disposal outlets in Tennessee.
  5. Increase access and quality of early intervention, treatment and recovery services.
  6. Expand collaborations and coordination among state agencies.
  7. Expand collaboration and coordination with other states.

“The abuse of prescription drugs, specifically opioids, is an epidemic in Tennessee, with disastrous and severe consequences to Tennesseans of every age,” Varney said. “Things such as overdose deaths, emergency department visits, hospital costs, children in state custody, and people incarcerated for drug-related crimes can all be prevented and/or treated if we all work together and fight this deadly problem.”

To access the full “Prescription for Success: Statewide Strategies to Prevent and Treat the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic in Tennessee” report, or the Executive Summary, please go online to tn.gov/mental/prescriptionforsuccess.

The plan was produced by the TDMHSAS in collaboration with the following other state agencies: the Department of Health (TDH), Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS), Department of Children’s Services (DCS), Department of Correction (TDOC), TennCare, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), and Tennessee Branch of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

“Health professionals of all types in Tennessee, particularly prescribers and dispensers, are stepping up to do their part in addressing this epidemic,” TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, said. “Through their support and use of the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database (CSMD) and resulting conversations with their patients, the Department of Health is pleased to work with them as stewards of the powerful tool for prevention and treatment that is the CSMD. We applaud TDMHSAS staff for their leadership in producing ‘Prescription for Success’ so that work like the CSMD, the efforts of the Health Licensing Boards, Pain Clinic regulation, and upcoming Chronic Pain Management Guidelines can be better aligned with a framework to help keep people in Tennessee safer and healthier.”

“The Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet was created in 2011 to develop and implement a measurable public safety action plan designed to have a significant impact on crime in Tennessee and help create a climate in communities across the state that fosters the creation of more and better jobs,” DSHS Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “To implement the Public Safety Action Plan, strong partnerships with key stakeholders are required, and it will take a coordinated and comprehensive effort to tackle aggressively the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.”

“At the Department of Children’s Services, we try to keep families together whenever possible, as long as we can keep kids safe and healthy,” DCS Commissioner Jim Henry said. “We work closely with our community partners to assist family members in receiving services, and we have a vast array of treatment options available for the children who come into our care.”

A number of other events also will be held across the state to discuss “Prescription for Success” report.

They will be:

  • Thursday, June 19th, in Cookeville – 2:00pm CDT at the Progressive Savings Bank, 1080 Interstate Drive, Cookeville
  • Wednesday, June 25th, in Clarksville*
  • Thursday, July 10th, in Chattanooga*
  • Thursday, July 17th, in Knoxville – 2:00pm EDT at the Moses Teen Center, 220 Carrick Street, Knoxville
  • Friday, July 18th, in the Tri-Cities – Noon EDT at the Boones Creek Christian Church, 305 Christian Church Road, Johnson City

*Specific times and locations for these events will be announced at a later date.

If you have any additional questions, please contact Michael Rabkin, TDMHSAS Director of Communications, at 615.532.6597 or Michael.Rabkin@tn.gov.


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