Tennessee nonprofit & MTSU receive $1 million grant to expand opioid & substance abuse programs

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WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A nonprofit aimed to prevent and reduce drug misuse and addiction in Wilson County will now be getting financial assistance to expand their programs.

The grant recipient is the Center for Health and Human Services (CHHS) at Middle Tennessee University and DrugFree WilCo is the non-profit partner in the grant. CHHS has received funding for this partnership from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The grant funds will be used to expand opioid and substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services in Wilson County.

DrugFree WilCo has more than 150 members and is an active partner with CHHS and MTSU. Members create focus groups in order to identify areas which need additional services to meet the needs of the community.

Project Administrator in Mayor Hutto’s Office & Co-chair of Drug-Free WilCo, Susan Shaw, told News 2 their organization began when a mother in the community reached out to Mayor Hutto after her son died from an overdose.

“It’s a struggle when people get addicted to painkillers or opioids, any type of drug. It’s not easy to take yourself off of that you actually need some assistance. You need medical and emotional help as well. That’s how it got started,” said Shaw.

The group began as a coalition and later became certified as a nonprofit.

“We started a jail-based reentry program to hire a jail transition specialist. We are also working with the DA on that and all law enforcement in the community, as well as different treatment providers,” said Shaw.

Shaw says they will be able to improve education on prevention, help employers hire those in recovery and begin to map out areas where opioids seem to be most problematic in the county.

“Developing that overdose map is going to be a big initiative, Captain Scott Moore who is our chairperson of drug free wilco will be spearheading that part of the initiative,” explained Shaw.

Moore released the following statistics to News 2:

  • Wilson County Sheriff’s Office in 2020 had 56 overdoses, 12 received Narcan, 18 resulted in death.
  • Mt. Juliet PD in 2020 had five overdose deaths, 25 received Narcan.
  • Mt Juliet PD in 2021 had four overdose deaths, 17 received Narcan.
  • LPD in 2020 had 120 overdoses, 23 deaths.

Mayor Hutto said, “DrugFree WilCo’s partnership with MTSU Center for Health & Human Services will make a difference and help save lives in Wilson County. Their efforts are supported by the Sheriff’s Office, all law enforcement, and the many agencies working to help children and adults to lead productive lives without addiction.”

The coalition still meets via Zoom every fourth Wednesday at 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Find more Top Stories from wkrn.com

DrugFree WilCo is hosting an event on August 31 for International Overdose Awareness Day. There will be a proclamation by Mayor Hutto and DA General Jason Lawson. Everyone is welcome to the event. It will take place at the Journey Church in Lebanon at 2:45 p.m. and the program will go until 4 p.m.

For more information, please call Susan Shaw in the Wilson County Mayor’s Office at (615)444-
1383
.

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