Cempa Community Care Takes Bold Approach To Tackling Opioid Epidemic

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Now more than ever, Chattanooga sees the importance in offering support to individuals facing mental and substance use disorders and create environments and relationships that promote acceptance throughout our city. Since 2011, opioid injection drug use in Tennessee has increased 38%, and Tennessee’s drug-related deaths have increased 40%. In addition, there was a 364% increase in the number of cases of acute Hepatitis C infection from 2006 to 2012 among persons under the age of 30. Too many people are still unaware that prevention with individuals facing mental and substance use disorders work, and that these disorders can be treated, just like other health problems. 

The Syringe Trade and Education Program of Tennessee (STEP TN), initiated and operated by Cempa Community Care, takes a bold approach in tackling the underlying community health concerns created by the opioid epidemic. In recognition of National Recovery Month, STEP TN hosted a Lunch & Learn inviting local organizations and agencies to collaborate on how to help individuals who inject drugs to enroll in evidence-based treatment. National Recovery Month raises awareness of mental and substance use disorders, celebrates individuals in long-term recovery, and acknowledges the work of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

STEP TN and local organizations, including testing centers, rehabilitation facilities, and law enforcement discussed the new syringe trade program and the opportunities for making recovery resources available to individuals who inject drugs. Ashley Ewald, Harm Reduction manager at Cempa Community Care, shared with community members how STEP TN began in March 2018.  STEP TN’s purpose is to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, and other bloodborne diseases. The program also seeks to reduce needle stick injuries to law enforcement officers and other emergency personnel and encourage individuals who inject drugs to enroll in evidence-based treatment.

Ewald said, “It is important that we collaborate our efforts and work together to help individuals battling drug abuse find the support they need. It can be as simple as taking the time to listen to someone’s personal story.” So much more can be accomplished by bringing STEP TN, law enforcement, and recovery organizations together to have a conversation about substance abuse challenges. Lindsey Ivester, Pre-Arrest Diversion Program Coordinator at Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System said, “These types of harm reduction models have been used all across the country and research shows that they have proven to be effective.”

A common myth is that syringe exchange programs encourage, enable or increase drug use, as well as crime. Research from the World Health Organization and American Medical Association shows this is not true. In fact, many studies show that syringe exchange programs decrease drug use by connecting people to treatment.  Ewald said, “This is a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue.”  It is estimated that syringe exchange program participants are five times more likely to enter drug treatment than non-participants. Ewald said, “Syringe exchange programs actually support recovery by linking an otherwise marginalized population into treatment and other services.” STEP TN looks forward to continuing to collaborate with community organizations to provide individuals with the support and recovery services they need. 


Welcome Home Conference "Demystifying Death And Dying" Set For April 5

Strides Of March Scheduled For Saturday, March 23

Breathe. Easy. Mobile Lung CT Coach To Visit Eastdale Community Center March 30


Welcome Home of Chattanooga will be having their third annual conference, "Demystifying Death and Dying," on Friday, April 5 from 8:30 a.m-4:15 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 401 Gateway Ave. ... (click for more)

Cempa Community Care's 24th Annual Strides of March is set for Saturday, March 23. The event will be held at Renaissance Park from noon-2 p.m., featuring a memorial walk at 1 p.m. "The first ... (click for more)

CHI Memorial’s mobile lung CT coach will be at Eastdale Community Center, 1312 Moss Dr. in Chattanooga, on Saturday, March 30 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. "Lung cancer screening is a test to look ... (click for more)


Living Well

Welcome Home Conference "Demystifying Death And Dying" Set For April 5

Welcome Home of Chattanooga will be having their third annual conference, "Demystifying Death and Dying," on Friday, April 5 from 8:30 a.m-4:15 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 401 Gateway Ave. in Chattanooga. Deborah Grassman, N.P. of Opus Peace will be the keynote speaker. Ms. Grassman is a mental health nurse practitioner whose 30-year career at the Department of Veterans Affairs ... (click for more)

Strides Of March Scheduled For Saturday, March 23

Cempa Community Care's 24th Annual Strides of March is set for Saturday, March 23. The event will be held at Renaissance Park from noon-2 p.m., featuring a memorial walk at 1 p.m. "The first Strides of March was held on March 24, 1996 at a time where Chattanooga, and the world, was facing a new and unknown virus," officials said. "Through medical advancements and the hard work ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Arrive Logistics To Expand In Chattanooga With 500 More Jobs, $3.6 Million Investment

Arrive Logistics officials announced Thursday that the company will expand its operations in Chattanooga. The logistics company will invest approximately $3.6 million into the region and create 500 new jobs in Hamilton County. Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, Arrive Logistics is a technology-enabled, growth-focused freight brokerage who serves shipper and ... (click for more)

Chattanooga And St. George, Utah Announced As Finalists For 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Triathlon

IRONMAN announced on Thursday that Chattanooga and St. George, Utah have been named finalists to host the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship triathlon, which will rotate back to the United States of America after last playing host to the event in 2017. The 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship will be a two-day event, a format that was first adopted in 2017 when the event was held ... (click for more)

Opinion

Keep The Electoral College

In 1950 there were 12 urban areas in the United States that had one million or more citizens. In 2010, 41 had more than one million in population and this number is projected to grow to 53 by 2030 (Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division). And currently more than 85 percent of our population is clustered into cities. Of the ten most ... (click for more)

Thank You, Senator Alexander, For Protecting Our Health

The American Lung Association in Tennessee is grateful to Senator Alexander for opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to weaken the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Mercury causes permanent damage to the brains of babies and unborn children, leading to developmental delays, learning disabilities and birth defects. Power plants also emit more than 80 other ... (click for more)