Although Tennessee has made progress on a number of levels in terms of fighting the ongoing opioid epidemic that is sweeping the nation, to really make an impact the state needs to invest in additional treatment, the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services said Monday.
“In this last year, even though … we’ve got less prescribers prescribing pain medicine, we’ve got less milligram equivalents, we’ve got more coalitions that are really impacting that gateway of alcohol and tobacco, but at the same time you’ve got these people that over the last 10 years have developed addiction … until we either get treatment for that person, you’ve got to get treatment or it’s not going to go away,” Commissioner Marie Williams told Gov. Bill Haslam during her department’s budget hearing presentation.
Williams’ comment came in response to Haslam asking her for an overview of how the state has been handling the ongoing opioid crisis. Last year alone, Tennessee saw 1,451 people die from drug overdoses. The state ranks second behind only Alabama among all states in the number of prescriptions issued.
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