Haslam announces plan to fight prescription drug abuse in TN - WSMV News 4

Haslam announces plan to fight prescription drug abuse in TN

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Gov. Bill Haslam announced a major initiative Tuesday to fight drug abuse across Tennessee.

More than 69,000 Tennesseans are addicted to prescription opioids, according to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and the state is ranked second in the nation for opioid use per capita.

"We have seen a lot of abuse-related problems in the state of Tennessee with a high number of opioids being prescribed, a high amount of doctor shopping. Rather than being the No. 1 state with a problem, we are trying, as a state, to be No. 1 with a solution," said Michael Rabkin, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The governor's Prescription for Success includes a seven-part plan to stop the illegal prescription drug trade, such as increasing access to drug disposal outlets; adding resources for early intervention, treatment and recovery services; and decreasing the amount of controlled substances dispensed.

It comes just days after Metro police seized thousands of Xanax pills in a bust that started on the other side of the country.

Investigators say a package containing 5,000 pills - estimated at $5 each in street value - arrived from California to an apartment on Brooksmill Circle.

Three people were arrested, and police say postal inspectors blocked an additional 16,000 pills from arriving.

With a growing drug trafficking problem, Rabkin says officials will also be working across state lines.

"Different states have different regulations, and we want to make sure that we are on the same page when it comes to helping people and making sure prescription drugs are used as intended," he said.

The plan comes on the heels of a Haslam administration initiative to set tighter limits on cold and allergy medicines used to make meth.

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