Bradley County works to heal, overcome opioid abuse

CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS

August 12, 2017 — A prosecutor, a physician, a pharmacist, a law enforcement officer and an EMS director took the stage of Walker Valley High School’s auditorium in Cleveland on Aug. 3, the morning before the new school year began.

They weren’t actors in a Shakespearean drama. They are expert witnesses to a real life tragedy: the opioid epidemic that claimed the lives of more than 183,000 Americans between 1999 and 2015 and continues to ravage the nation.

Tennessee’s rate of opioid prescriptions was the second highest in the nation and peaked in 2012, prompting new policies that successfully reduced the total number of opioid prescriptions in the state by 12 percent.

Although prescribing rates have decreased, opioid related hospitalizations and deaths in Tennessee continue to rise, according to an August report from the Sycamore Institute, an independent, nonpartisan public policy research center in Nashville.

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