State opioid task force takes part in forum at ETSU, visits site of new Gray methadone clinic

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – It is one of the most urgent health needs facing this region – how to help the growing number of people living in the grip of drug addiction.

On Monday the topic was front and center at East Tennessee State University where a team of lawmakers hand-picked to tackle the problem gathered to see what’s be done here in the Tri-Cities.

For the first time since its inception, a special task force led by Tennessee House speaker Beth Harwell is meeting in upper east Tennessee,

“We really wanted to come to East Tennessee because we know this is kind of the epicenter of the crisis,” Speaker Harwell said.

A crisis Harwell says the task force is working to fix.

During a forum at East Tennessee State University on Monday, law makers learned more about a new treatment addiction facility or methadone clinic opening in Gray, Tennessee later this year.

A collaboration between ETSU, Mountain State Health Alliance, and frontier health the clinic, more formally known as Over Mountain Recovery, has been a topic heavily debated in the community

Meeting opposition from people living in gray.

ETSU associate dean and professor Doctor Robert Pack says the new recovery center will be beneficial to those suffering from addiction.

“We are trying to bring the very best of the clinical operations talents from Mountain States as well as mental health counseling talent if you will from Frontier Health as well as our research and prevention and education expertise at ETSU, we are trying to bring that together in one place.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Health more than 1,450 people across the state died from overdose in 2015, that is a nearly 200 person increase over 2014.

Members of the state task force say they are hoping to create laws that will help those numbers decline. Meanwhile, they are looking to the efforts in upper East Tennessee with the new recovery center.

“We are very interested in the amount of research that can be done, we can take this idea and maybe apply it to other parts of the state,” Harwell said.

Law makers are also relying on support and input from people in communities across the Volunteer state.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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