State Leaders to Discuss Prescription Drug Plan During Visit to Knoxville on Thursday, July 17

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 | 12:03 pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) Commissioner E. Douglas Varney will join other state and community leaders to discuss a plan to tackle the widespread epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Tennessee during a visit to Knoxville on Thursday, July 17. Members of the news media and the public are invited to attend.

Prescription drug abuse is a pervasive, multi-dimensional issue impacting Tennessee individuals, families, and communities. Of the 4,850,000 adults in Tennessee, it is estimated that nearly five (5) percent (about 221,000) have used pain relievers, also known as prescription opioids, in the past year for non-medical purposes; of those, it is estimated that 69,100 are addicted to prescription opioids and require treatment for prescription opioid abuse.

“The abuse of prescription drugs, specifically opioids, is an epidemic in Tennessee, with disastrous and severe consequences to Tennesseans of every age,” Commissioner Varney said. “Things such as overdose deaths, emergency department visits, hospital costs, children in state custody, and people incarcerated for drug-related crimes can all be prevented and/or treated if we all work together and fight this deadly epidemic.”

WHO:            Commissioner Varney, Judge Chuck Cerny, of the Knox County General Sessions Drug Court, Jerry Vagnier of Helen Ross McNabb Center, and others

WHAT:           Discussion of the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic and release of the “Prescription for Success: Statewide Strategies to Prevent and Treat the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic in Tennessee” report. Also, specific data issues and strategies for the greater Knoxville area will be discussed.

WHEN/WHERE: 2 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Thursday, July 17, at the Moses Teen Center, 220 Carrick Street, Suite 318, Knoxville.

To access the full “Prescription for Success: Statewide Strategies to Prevent and Treat the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic in Tennessee” report or the Executive Summary, go online to The plan was produced by the TDMHSAS in collaboration with the following other state agencies: Department of Health (TDH), Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS), Department of Children’s Services (DCS), Department of Correction (TDOC), TennCare, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), and Tennessee Branch of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).