NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A mother is taking on Tennessee’s opioid crisis after losing her daughter to an overdose.
Betty Mason said more needs to be done to stop young people from becoming addicted to opioids, that’s why she’s supporting a bill that would require caps on pill bottles that have a combination lock.
Mason’s daughter Katy was, for the most part, a typical teenager.
“She was on the swim team at Southern Hills, she played soccer, she played basketball, Katy ice-skated, Katy traveled with a dance group,” Mason said.
But she was also bullied and was worried about her body image.
“We noticed in the 8th grade a little bit of difference, something was bothering her.”
Then things quickly changed after she starting experimenting with opioids.
“Once she was introduced to drugs it went to such a warp speed momentum.”
Her love for animals was her escape.
She loved horses and wanted to be a veterinarian.
Katy also loved going to Steeple Chase and was the youngest Jump Marshal, but she kept a deep dark secret hidden inside.
“Those cravings from the back of the brain jump over the fence to the front,” Mason said. “She passed away on Steeple Chase, her favor event.”
Mason is now supporting a bill called the Pilfering Prevention Act, that’s currently before state lawmakers.
It would require a combination lock on opioid prescription bottles.
“It gives me hope, it can prevent,” Mason said. “Prevention is the best way because after they’ve experimented one or two times I mean it’s down the rabbit hole.”
Mason doesn’t feel much being done to fight the opioid epidemic.
“If we have a war going on right now against opioids, I’m not seeing much waging of war against it,” she said.
But she said everyday in Tennessee and in states across the Country, opioid overdoses are causing casualty after casualty.
“I am seeing a lot of fatalities that’s part of a war,” Mason said.
She believes the locked cap bottles is the first step in winning the opioid abuse battle.
“Prevention is what’s needed,” Mason said. “We don’t need to pour more people into this abusive situation. There are enough people suffering from drug addiction that need our help.”
It’s been 50 years since Congress passed laws requiring child-proof prescription bottles, a new study conducted by Johns Hopkins University explores updating packaging for prescription opioids.
Vanderbilt resident physician Sterling Haring helped author the study.
“Child proof caps were a great idea, they are not cutting it anymore,” Haring said. “Opioids are an issue that affects everybody now, you can’t get away from it.”
He and proponents of House Bill 2173 and Senate Bill 2142, which are currently before the Legislature, feel something as simple as combination locking bottles will save lives, and save million of dollars in reduced healthcare costs and in the criminal justice system.
It’s designed to keep children and teens, who are looking to take a pill or two from the medicine cabinet of their parents or grandparents.
“If a boat is sinking, you plug the hole before you start bailing out the water and this bill represents a fantastic opportunity to plug that hole among our teenage and young users who otherwise who would just be getting started in opioid addiction,” Haring said.
State Representative Tilman Goins is the sponsor for House Bill 2173. It was taken off notice last week in the House Health Subcommittee.
Senator Ferrell Haile is sponsoring Senate Bill 2143. It has been placed on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee calendar for Wednesday.