Medical, law enforcement officials meet about prescription drug problem

The data on prescription drug abuse in Tennessee is staggering. More than 220,000 residents have used pain relievers for non-medical use in the last year.

According to the state department of mental health, 70 percent of those people got the drugs from a family member or friend's medicine cabinet.

State leaders met Thursday in Knoxville to discuss a strategy to fight this epidemic. The meeting gave medical professionals, law enforcement agencies, and rehab clinic employees the chance to talk about the state's new plan to fight the prescription drug problem. It's called "Prescription for Success."

The main message was that legislation from Nashville won't solve the problem, but local community efforts to put this plan in place will.
The plan includes ways to reduce "doctor shopping" and overdose deaths.

Department of Mental Health commissioner Doug Varney says this all starts with preventing over prescribing. "We hope to limit just the sheer volume of prescriptions that are written out there for marcos and opioids, which are pain medications, and the benzodiazepines, which are anti-anxiety medications. We think that's really through healthcare provider efforts and tracking what patients are doing with the medicines," he said.

The Department of Mental Health gave us new data on drug use in the Tri-Cities Thursday. They say more than 4,000 children 12 to 17 years old are dependent on drugs or alcohol. That's compared to 32,000 adults.

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