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Governor's Plan To Address Opioid Crisis Involves Repurposing Prison Beds


Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled a multi-part plan Monday to address opioid addiction in Tennessee, which killed 1,186 residents of the state in 2016 and put a strain on local healthcare systems and resources, causing more than 20,000 nonfatal outpatient and inpatient stays in Tennessee in 2016.

Nationwide, opioids are also a problem for the construction industry.

All together, the Tennessee fiscal year 2018-19 budget proposal will include $30M in state and federal funds to support the plan, called TN Together, which would have a three-pronged approach — prevention, treatment and law enforcement. 

The plan calls for legislation to limit the opioid supply and the dosage of opioid prescriptions, with certain exceptions, and put an emphasis on new patients. Also, there would be more prevention education in grades K-12.

Prevention would include identifying women of childbearing age who are chronic opioid users and providing targeted outreach to them about its risks and treatment to prevent Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome births.

The proposal calls for investing more than $25M for treatment and recovery services for individuals with opioid use disorder. These services would include an increase in recovery specialists in targeted, high-need emergency departments to connect patients to treatment immediately.

Every Tennessee state trooper would carry naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose.

In law enforcement, TN Together calls for legislation that expands residential treatment for opioid dependence within the criminal justice system. 

The plan would repurpose 512 beds in the state's West Tennessee prison to drug treatment services and create a drug treatment program for inmates, offering a reduced sentence for completing it.

Related Topics: Gov. Bill Haslam, opioid abuse