Republican candidate for Tennessee House District 27, Patsy Hazlewood, voiced her support of the seven-point plan to reduce prescription opioid abuse, announced Tuesday by Governor Bill Haslam, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Department of Health.
"With Hamilton County listed among the state's ‘top' counties for the number of pain clinics and number of babies born each year dependent upon narcotics, our citizens will be well-served by this initiative to reduce the availability of powerful narcotic pain medications to those choosing to abuse and re-sell them," said Ms. Hazlewood. "Illegal and illicit drug use harms families, harms employees, and burdens an already stretched healthcare system."
Joined by TDMHSAS Commissioner Douglas Varney, TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, Commissioner Bill Gibbons of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Mark Gwyn, Governor Bill Haslam announced the next phase of his administration's continued work to address the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
The main tenants of the proposal include using educational activity, law enforcement, regulatory oversight, and treatment availability through the medical community to see reductions in the number of Tennesseans abusing controlled substances and incurring the unintended consequences noted by accidental overdose and newborn dependency.
"The need to balance patient access to care, increasing provisions for substance abuse treatment while addressing behavior that is beyond medical use is critical," said Ms. Hazlewood. "The excessive use of these narcotics demonstrates the presence of a problem in our state that, if ignored, will cloud Tennessee's future."
According to Tennessee's Department of Health, unintentional overdose-caused deaths increased more than 250 percent during the decade spanning 2001 to 2011- with a tenfold increase during that same time frame in babies born dependent on drugs. Tennessee ranks second nationally in the number of opioid prescriptions per capita.
Ms. Hazlewood, former director of the Southeast Regional Economic and Community Development 10-county team, is on the ballot for the Aug. 7 election. Early voting begins, Friday, July 18.
Tennessee House District 27 includes Soddy Daisy, Falling Water, Red Bank, Mowbry, Signal and Lookout Mountains, Lookout Valley and Walden.