NASHVILLE, TN (WJHL) – Governor Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that will require any healthcare worker who refuses to submit to a drug test or tests positive without a valid prescription to report to a substance abuse peer assistance or treatment program.
Press Secretary Jennifer Donnals confirmed today the governor signed the legislation, deferring “to the will of the legislature on this bill as amended.”
The law allows those battling addiction to complete treatment and then return to work. However, those who don’t fulfill treatment requirements will face suspension of their licenses.
Recovering addict Dr. Stephen Loyd applauded the passage of the law in that it helps connect those battling addiction with treatment options.
“The goals are very good and I agree with it as a general principal as well as legislation,” he said.
The Johnson City native and former East Tennessee State University physician says he remembers fearing he’d lose everything, including his job, home and family, when his dad pushed him to get treatment.
“He said, ‘Steve, none of that stuff is going to matter if you’re dead,’ and that was really my moment,” Dr. Loyd said.
“This is probably one of the most important bills that the health committee passed this year. It’s going to protect patients,” sponsor Sen. Rusty Crowe (R), TN-District 3, said Tuesday. “It’s going to separate the patient from the practitioner that’s addicted and for the first time, we will now know who they are without having to wait on a complaint, which means somebody’s been hurt.”
Now with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health, Dr. Loyd continues to share his story, hoping to help others survive and succeed. Nearing his 13th year drug-free, he’s proof treatment works.
“The success rate for treatment of addiction is really high whenever you’re given the proper resources and individualized treatment,” he said. “It’s not hopeless.”
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