Governor Haslam unveils plan to end opioid epidemic in Tennessee

(Photo: WKRN)

There are two videos inside this story. Click here to watch both from the News 2 app.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced a $30 million plan to combat the state’s opioid problem.

“This is a crisis that knows no boundaries and impacts many Tennesseans regardless of race, income, gender or age,” said Haslam. “Our approach will be aggressive with provisions to limit the supply of opioids and significant state and federal dollars to provide treatment to those in need.”

The plan focuses on 3 targets: prevention, treatment and law enforcement. Highlights include:

  • Legislation to limit the supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions. New prescriptions will be limited to a 5-day supply of drugs with daily dosage limits.
  • Increasing prevention education for school children, starting in Kindergarten through 12th
  • Identifying women of childbearing age who are chronic opioid users and providing targeted outreach counseling about risks and treatment.
  • Improving the state’s data systems to identify critical hot spots.
  • Legislation that expands residential treatment and services for opioid addicts in the criminal justice system and creates incentives for offenders who complete intensive treatment programs while in prison.
  • Providing extra resources to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for rapid response teams, and tougher penalties for drug dealers who lace their products with fentanyl and drugs that mimic the effects of fentanyl.
  • Providing every Tennessee state trooper with naloxone for emergency treatment of opioid overdoses.

After outlining the what he called “comprehensive” legislation before an overflow crowd in the Capitol’s Old Supreme Court Chambers, Governor Haslam took questions about proposal.

“We think this very specific 10-point plan will really help us turn the tide against opioids in terms everything from over prescription, prevention and finally law enforcement,” said the governor.

Several of the minority Democrats said this was a “start that did not go far enough” with 25-million allotted in the upcoming state budget for treatment out of a 30-million dollar total for the bill.

Nashville Democrat Jeff Yarbro was one of them.

“Twenty-five million in treatment is somewhat troubling,”said the senator. “We have some hospitals in this country that have 25 million devoted to opioid treatment.”  Click here to read more of the Democratic response.

After reciting statistics that three Tennesseans die daily of opioid overdoses, the governor said he hoped legislative committee would “quickly” get to his legislation.

More details on the TN Together plan, including help for those suffering from addiction and other resources can be found at tn.gov/opioids.

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