Knoxville officials work to end prescription drug abuse

Knoxville officials work to end prescription drug abuse

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State and local leaders came together to tackle drug abuse in East Tennessee. The Metropolitan Drug Commission teamed up with stakeholders to discuss statistics and strategies. State and local leaders came together to tackle drug abuse in East Tennessee. The Metropolitan Drug Commission teamed up with stakeholders to discuss statistics and strategies.
"This is many times very innocent. Someone has an injury and starts on the medication and then finds themselves addicted," Dr. Mitchell Mutter said. "This is many times very innocent. Someone has an injury and starts on the medication and then finds themselves addicted," Dr. Mitchell Mutter said.
"E-cigarettes are becoming very popular, and we're not really sure right now what the long term health effects of those are going to be," Karen Pershing said "E-cigarettes are becoming very popular, and we're not really sure right now what the long term health effects of those are going to be," Karen Pershing said

By KAYLA STRAYER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - State and local leaders came together to tackle drug abuse in East Tennessee. The Metropolitan Drug Commission teamed up with stakeholders to discuss statistics and strategies.

The main focus of Tuesday's annual luncheon was to educate local leaders on the newest numbers regarding underage drinking and prescription drug abuse across different age groups.

According to the Metropolitan Drug Commission, Tennessee is third in the nation for the number of drug prescriptions written.

"Any way you want to look at the numbers, we've got us a real, real problem," said District Attorney General Randy Nichols.

Nichols says this is the worst drug epidemic he's ever seen.

"We're trying to get some legislation in place to give us some teeth that we'll be able to deal, and deal quite harshly, with those people that wish to addict our population for money," Nichols said.

Dr. Mitchell Mutter with the state health department says a new study shows East Tennessee has the highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the state, in part because of the 37 local pain clinics.

"This is many times very innocent. Someone has an injury and starts on the medication and then finds themselves addicted," Mutter said.

Karen Pershing with the Metropolitan Drug Commission says it's not just pills growing in popularity.

"E-cigarettes are becoming very popular, and we're not really sure right now what the long term health effects of those are going to be," Pershing said.

Officials at the meeting also wanted clearer policies when it comes to electronic cigarettes, including whether they can be used inside restaurants.

They say the solution to East Tennessee drug abuse will come through a combination of education and legislation.

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