NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Governor Bill Haslam announced a plan to end the opioid epidemic in Tennessee. It focuses on three major components, including prevention, treatment and law enforcement.
Mother Lori Bland told News 2 her son is an opioid addict. She said when he was younger, she tried to find him help.
“His options were limited. The unfortunate thing was that state funded programs have long lists. As an addict, my son would want help and then the addiction would take over and he would not wait that long. Then he would decide he would want help again, and it just wasn’t there,” said Bland.
Bland says the family tried three times to help their son get into a state treatment programs. Now, Bland says her son is serving a prison sentence for trying to rob someone at gunpoint for opioids.
“That is not where he needs to be though. He needs help. He needs treatment,” said Bland.
Under his plan, Haslam plans to invest more than $25 million for treatment and recovery services for people with opioid use disorder.
In total, Haslam’s budget proposal will include a $30 million investment in state and federal money.
Brian Sullivan is the Public Relations Manager for Addiction Campuses. He says this is a good move.
“What this side of it will do is to ramp up the drug courts and give people an option that you don’t have to go to jail. You can go to treatment. It is also more cost effective for the state of Tennessee. We are spending $30 to $50 thousand a year to house inmates when we could get them into addiction treatment for half the cost,” explained Sullivan.
Haslam’s plan would also include an increase in prevention education in elementary and secondary schools. The proposal also adds opioid-focused TBI agents.