Tennessee now getting better funding to battle opioid crisis


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – More money is going toward helping Tennesseans trapped in addiction, thanks to increased federal and state funding.

The 21st Century Cures Act will send $13.8 million per year, for two years, to Tennessee to be used for overdose prevention and increasing access to treatment.

Tennessee’s governor and legislature have also approved an additional $6 million per year, every year, to expand treatment and recovery services.

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services say the money is much-needed to combat the opioid crisis in the state.

Nearly 70,000 Tennesseans are currently addicted to opioids, according to statistics from May 2017. Those individuals are in need of treatment, the department said.

An additional 151,900 Tennesseans are using prescription opioids in ways that could be harmful, and they may benefit from early intervention strategies.

About four people in the state die of drug overdose per day.

Dr. Stephen Loyd has a unique perspective about the opioid crisis. He’s assistant commissioner for substance abuse services with the state.

He’s also a recovering addict.

“Me being in recovery, I look back in my own use and remember how many nights that I was scared to close my eyes and go to sleep because I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up,” said Loyd. “That’s hard to explain to people. We have multiple Tennesseans actually doing that every single day. They are closing their eyes and they’re not waking up.”

State officials say anyone who may need help with addiction should call the Tennessee Red Line at 1-800-889-9789.

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