The Tennessee General Assembly has formed a joint task force on opioid and prescription drug abuse. House Speaker Beth Harwell, who is leading up the task force, has set her sights on determining best practices to dismantle Tennessee’s opioid and prescription abuse problems.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, data show that 1,451 people died from drug overdoses in the state in 2015. Tennessee ranked second in the nation in opioid prescribing in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The bipartisan task force includes Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, who chairs the committee; Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga; Rep. Curtis Halford, R-Dyer; Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory; Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland; Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro; Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville; and Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland.
Since February, the committee has been hearing stories about opioid addiction, as well as details from law enforcement and physicians about how they’re fighting the epidemic. From there, the task force hopes to pass legislation in partnership with police in order to dismantle the growing operation of opioid abuse. Additionally, the task force will look into the possibility of partnering with physicians to create pilot programs for rehabilitation, measuring results of those programs, and then determining the best practices to cure this epidemic.
If you’d like to follow along, the task force meets on most Thursdays at 10 a.m., and is live-streamed on the Tennessee General Assembly’s website. We will be recapping the meetings and posting them to our blog and social channels.
We challenge you to do your part to help combat the opioid crisis. Make sure you are counting, locking and dropping off your unused or expired prescriptions. Use our drop box finder to find a convenient drop location near you.