Those on the front lines gather at TN opioid summit

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Once again Tennessee’s opioid crisis took center stage today in Nashville, but many of those on the front lines say there should be a focus on overall causes of drug addiction.

Its dangers and how to get treatment drew a full room for several hours Monday morning through the early afternoon.

The participants in a series of panels included law enforcement along with health care providers.

One of them was a doctor who has spent time in both urban and rural settings.

“We don’t just have an opioid epidemic. We have a poly-drug epidemic and the real question is why does America need to self medicate?” said Dr. Daniel Sumrok, who has taught addiction at the University of Memphis in addition to running clinics in rural Tennessee. “Our research shows that people make the decision to use drugs after suffered adverse childhood experiences.”

Then there was Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew who drove two hours to share what he has seen with drugs like fentanyl.

“The crazy thing about it is people know the dangers of it but they are still doing it,” said an exasperated sheriff.

He also talked of his officers being the first defense of a drug overdose by carrying a life-saving antidote.

“We are doing a lot of things–preventative things like training all our deputies on NARCAN. we carry two dosages of NARCAN on us–on our vests,” added Sheriff Belew.

But that’s just one part of the battle for an issue not going away for law enforcement, health care providers and lawmakers at every level of government.

The opioid summit was put on for the second annual year by the group Healthy Tennessee.  

The State of Tennessee funds an addiction hotline number at 1-800-889-9789.

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