Lawmakers hope Opioid and Prescription Drug Task Force can combat addiction

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There was an emotional testimony Thursday from a chiropractor who lost his daughter to opioid abuse.

The doctor was just one of many who addressed the newly formed Opioid and Prescription Drug Task Force at its first meeting at Legislative Plaza.

It’s still difficult for Clarksville chiropractor Dr. James Davis to talk about what happened to his daughter, Jaimee Danielle.

“I’m sorry,” Davis said while sobbing.

Jaimee went from having a routine surgery and then contracted MERSA.

The 28 year old was prescribed opioids to deal with the pain and became addicted.

“I personally didn’t realize how bad it was and I use to tell her to put her big panties on and go take care of this, and quit making excuses about why she had to do this,” Davis said while crying. “I realized about six months before she died that this is a horrible.

Davis blames those who openly hand out pain medication like candy.

“This is the most horrible thing; It’s worse than anybody could ever do and it’s been perpetuated and I’m not mad at anybody, I’m mad at those doctors and pain clinics that are out there giving this stuff away because they are making money,” stated Davis.

The chiropractor said a person can go to a pain clinic and pay a $400 office visit and walk away with 90 Oxycontin for knee or back pain.

“Some of these people are no more than legal drug dealers,” he said.

Davis said he the worse socioeconomic problem in Tennessee has is opioid medication.

“None of these people wants to be addicts, none of them,” Davis told News 2. “They don’t want to be addicts. So we have to do something pretty drastic.”

In 2015, 1,400 people died in Tennessee from drug overdoses, the highest annual number in our state’s history.

Speaker of the House Beth Harwell is hoping the task force can help get a handle on this growing problem.

“This is an issue that’s too critical to ignore,” Harwell told the task force. “We really are the epicenter of the opioid crisis in America. There are more opioid prescription than there are people in this state.”

Davis said something needs to be done soon about this epidemic.

“This committee can make a difference if you’re strong enough, if you’re strong enough and not afraid of the medical professional and you’re not afraid to arrest somebody and put somebody in an orange jumpsuit,” Davis said.

The Opioid and Prescription Drug Task Force also heard from speakers about babies born addicted to Opioids.

“No woman ever chose to have an opioid-affected baby,” said Jeremy Kane, director of EdCom. “We know that 90 percent of opioid-affected births are from unplanned pregnancies.”

Tennessee does lead the way in preventing opioid exposed and affected babies.

Here are some sobering numbers: Out of 100 pregnancies among women prescribed or using opioids, 10 will result in abortion, 77 will be born pre-term, low birth weight or suffering from withdrawal.

Only 13 will be born healthy, according to Kane.

Click here to read more about Tennessee’s Opioid Crisis.