Each day, 142 Americans die of drug overdose. This is a national crisis without boundaries of race, education, creed, or socio-economic status. Addiction impacts not only the patient – but the entire family and community. Opioid addiction isn’t a moral failing, it is a failure of our medical, judicial regulatory and education systems – and we need to start to treat it as such.
Tennessee is one of the hardest-hit states. In Tennessee, 7.6 million opioid prescriptions were written last year — more than our state’s population of 6.6 million. Addiction means good-paying jobs, particularly in our rural areas, go unfilled. It means families are torn apart. It means too many churches bury young men and women, before they lived a full life. We must address this generational-crisis with urgency.
To solve this problem, our state government must convene the front-line warriors in this fight; specifically nonprofits, faith leaders, people who have successfully recovered from addiction, and healthcare providers – with the specific aim of breaking down the silos that get in the way of finding and implementing solutions.
I promise to fight to:
- Evaluate and act on needed reforms to TennCare that will help break the cycle of addiction;
- Improve community education on opioids — from schools to the point of prescription pick up — helping patients and families understand how opiates impact the brain;
- Increase the number of TBI-sponsored pill-drop points; and work with employers to sponsor and fund pill collection drives to safely dispose of opiates and reduce their circulation in the secondary market;
- Reform our judicial system to ensure people struggling with addiction have a path to recovery and reintegration;
- Support law enforcement in their efforts to identify and arrest drug cartels transporting drugs to and through Tennessee.