KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – East Tennesseans got a front row seat at the White House as President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. On Thursday, the president unveiled a new push to fight the epidemic and right behind him was Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch and a former drug addict from Jefferson County.
Two hundred and twenty-four suspected overdose deaths have occurred so far this year in Knox County. That’s the District Attorney General’s count based on the medical examiner’s data. While it could go up or down as new info comes in, that’s already equal to the number from all of last year and there are still two months left of the year.Related: Trump declares US opioid emergency but pledges no new money
Among the select few standing behind the president was Mallie Moore from Jefferson County.
“It wasn’t real until I walked into the White House,” said Moore.
It’s been a goal of hers to go to the White House after sharing her 10 year battle with addiction to state lawmakers. She said the disease of addiction got her kids taken away from her. She began her recovery journey four years ago. On Thursday, she applauded a plan to help others beat their addiction.
Chief Rausch accompanied her on stage. This epidemic even impacted him. Earlier this year, he became emotional telling a state panel his own stepson had battled addiction. He also supported President Trump’s plan.
“Quite frankly, I think it will be impactful and effective,” he said.
Under this declaration, officials will be able to provide more substance abuse treatment. President Trump also talked about ongoing efforts to require opioid prescribers to undergo special training. The Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner was also invited to the White House. He called the announcement a landmark day in history.