Stronger Penalties Alone Won’t Solve State’s Opioid Crisis

THE MEMPHIS DAILY NEWS & THE NASHVILLE LEDGER

August 17, 2017 — The state Legislature has been trying to quell the increase of opioid abuse for several years with numerous new laws, yet the number of people dying in Tennessee from opioid abuse has increased nearly every year for last two decades, rising to 1,451 in 2015 and some 1,600 in 2016, with more than 6,000 people succumbing to it over the last five years.

The Sycamore Institute gives the state good marks for significant progress in cutting opioid prescribing and dispensing, in addition to making a few “targeted investments” in substance abuse treatment.

The Sycamore Institute points out that addiction is a chronic brain disease requiring long-term care and management. The best treatment and recovery programs involve early intervention, medically assisted detox, medications and recovery support.

Unfortunately, all of those can be blocked by financial obstacles, social stigma and a shortage of treatment space, the institute reports.

The Sycamore Institute adds Americans are the biggest consumers of prescription opioids worldwide, and it’s easy to see why. Too often, doctors and pain clinics are giving people pills they don’t need. People are looking for a cure for every ill, and our young people are trying to ease some kind of pain with prescription and illegal drugs.

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