Governor Haslam Announces 7-Step Prescription Drug Plan

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Governor Haslam Announces 7-Step Prescription Drug Plan

CREATED Jun 3, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Douglas Varney unveiled a seven-step plan to fight prescription drug abuse in Tennessee.

The state estimates that in the last year, nearly 221,000 Tennesseans have used prescription pain relievers for non-medical purposes, and that 69,000 of them are addicted to the drugs.

Varney's department worked with several other state agencies to come up with the multi-year plan called “Prescription for Success” to fight abuse and treat addiction in the state.

The strategies include increasing access to drug disposal outlets; adding resources for early intervention, treatment and recovery services; and decreasing the amount of controlled substances dispensed.

"The abuse of prescription drugs, specifically opioids, is an epidemic in Tennessee, with disastrous and severe consequences to Tennesseans of every age," Varney said in a statement. "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."

Judge Seth Norman, who runs the drug court in Davidson County, said treatment will be vital to success of the new program.

The plan comes on the heels of a Haslam administration initiative to set tighter limits on cold and allergy medicines used to make meth.

Under the legislation, a doctor's prescription will be needed buy more than five months' worth of the maximum dose of medicines like Sudafed containing pseudoephedrine.

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)