My family and I recently attended the 10th Annual “Bold Enough Challenge” Rodeo at Triple Creek Park in Gallatin. We enjoyed fresh squeezed lemonade and hand-dipped corn dogs while watching bucking broncos and raging bulls. The family friendly event not only provided entertainment for all, but it also supported an instrumental organization in fighting the opioid crisis, The Sumner County Anti-Drug Coalition.
The Coalition works to provide solutions to reduce substance abuse to better the lives of youth, families, and individuals in Sumner County by limiting access to substances, changing cultures and attitudes towards substance abuse, and reducing negative consequences associated with substance abuse. Programs provided by SCADC are imperative to implementing real solutions to combat addiction including the opioid crisis.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, Sumner County saw 39 drug overdose deaths in 2016. Twenty-one of those were opioid deaths and seven were heroin, which is often a progression of addiction for opioid users. That number is three times the number of drug overdose deaths in 2012, with the number of heroin deaths up from one to seven. 2015 saw 376 outpatient overdose visits and 247 inpatient stays. These statistics are alarming. Nearly all of us have been affected by the opioid crisis, whether it be the addiction of a family member, a close friend or a personal experience, it is all hitting too close to home.
Currently, the SCADC is funded primarily by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Sumner County should increase support for the Coalition and organizations who are committed to combatting this epidemic through education, raising awareness, and treating mental health issues, not criminalization. Our law enforcement officers should continue to be trained effectively, equipped with resources such as Narcan, and be staffed properly to address the increase in crime stemming from the crisis. As commissioner, I promise to continue raising awareness as well as researching and proposing real solutions in combatting the opioid crisis.
Featured image of rodeo: Dobbs Family Photography