Tennessee opioid abuse reduction group recommends more state action

Acquire DigitalNews

WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Tennessee’s Opioid Abuse Reduction Act working group thinks Tennessee should do more to fight its painkiller epidemic and reduce the number of overdose deaths.

Lawmakers created the group last year. The state recently released a 265-page report, which includes four recommendations.

“I think we’ve made great progress, but it’s such a huge thing,” Frontier Health Senior Vice President Dr. Randall Jessee, a member of the working group, said. “It has such impact and power. There’s so many people involved in it that we still have a drop in the bucket.”

As we reported in November, 580 people in Northeast Tennessee died from 2009 to 2014 from drug overdoses; most of those people from pain pills.

Dr. Jessee says Tennessee has made strides in tackling the problem, but he says a lack of funding to properly treat patients is holding the state back.

“Limited dollars, that’s handcuffing us more than anything else,” he said. “I think we have more information, we have more ability to take knowledge and use it than ever before. What I’d like to see is funding for long-term treatment. We have the ability to treat people, but it’s short-term.”

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