Opioid discussion provides statistics, information to public

Published 3:09 pm Monday, May 15, 2017

Raising awareness is the name of the game when it comes to the opioid epidemic that continues to rear its head across Tennessee.
To help combat the issue locally, the Carter County Democratic Party and the Carter County Democratic Women’s Club cosponsored an opioid discussion on Saturday, May 13, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Elizabethton. Saturday’s event was more of an intimate, roundtable discussion with three presenters each providing their own take on opioids in the state, and across the country.
Dr. Jess Miller, previous Army physician that is based out of Elizabethton with Mountain States Medical Group, opened the discussion by talking about opioids from a physician’s point-of-view, adding that he can practice out of Virginia and Tennessee and that the former has more stricter guidelines when it comes to prescriptions.
Mary Linden Salter, TAADAS (Training, Advocacy, Addition Treatment, ReDline, Clearinghouse, Recovery Books & Things) executive director provided multiple statistics when it comes to addiction in Tennessee.
According to information provided by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services from July 2014 to June 2015, 27 percent of addicts were injection drug users, a statistic looking to rise with the prevalence of heroin reaching across the state. The Tennessee Department of Health released numbers months back that 1,451 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses in 2015. Tennessee, in 2010, was ranked second highest in the country for kilograms of prescription painkillers sold per 10,000 people.
Different services are available for individuals battling through addiction, including the Tennessee Redline (1-800-889-9789). The service offers 24/7 referral services and is strictly anonymous. Individuals can call for addiction treatment, recovery support and behavioral health services. While it is call-only for the time-being, Salter added Redline should be having a text service for residents beginning June 1.
Locally, different entities are leading the charge to help combat the issue. Jilian Reece, Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition director, spoke during Saturday’s discussion to provide attendees with updates on what the organization has to offer and what they will offer to the public.
Reece spoke about the success of the recent Naloxone trainings, which were spearheaded by ETSU’s Sarah Melton last week. Melton held two trainings for the county last week but Reece added that CCDP would provide free training to individuals. The Elizabethton Police Department is a partner with the organization and also has Naloxone available when out patrolling in the community.
The goal is to help promote awareness and preventive measures to tackle addiction, Reece said. CCDP offers opportunities for children downtown in a safe and healthy atmosphere. Reece also added that local faith-based organizations looking to have resources for members to battle addiction can do so, free of charge, with partnerships offered by the State of Tennessee.
A community-wide opioid presentation will be unveiled to the public on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at T.A. Dugger Junior High from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event will be open to the public and is sponsored by Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition.
Reece added the event has been spearheaded by Dr. Danny Smith and will include guest speakers Stephen Loyd and Alan Meade, president of the Tennessee Physical Therapy Association. Reece went on to add a pharmacist will also be available for the event but no confirmations have been made at this time.
Contact Reece at ccdpdirector@outlook.com for more information about the CCDP or how to get involved.
Saturday marked the third in a line of speaker series offered by the Carter County Democratic Party. Other series included climate change and healthcare. For more on upcoming speaker series or how to get involved with the party, email Party Chair Kristi Carr at kcarr59@yahoo.com or visit the Carter County Democratic Party Facebook page online.

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