Editorial: Governor's Plan to Confront Opioid Epidemic Needs GOP Boost

Our institutional reflexes might be slow, but it is encouraging to see the emergence of substantive plans to address America’s opioid addiction epidemic.

A USA TODAY NETWORK series outlined the scope of the problem: More than 175 drug overdose deaths per day in 2016, a year that found more than 11 million of us abusing painkillers derived from the seed pods of poppies, nearly 1 million of us using heroin, and only 1 in 10 addicts receiving treatment.

Across Tennessee, an average of three people die from opioid overdoses daily.

It is no consolation that prescriptions for opioids in Shelby County totaled less than half the rates in many other Tennessee counties during 2016.

"It's not an unusual day when two or three people are dropped off in the ED not breathing because of an opioid overdose," Dr. Marilyn McLeod, medical director of the emergency department at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, told a reporter for the Network.

The opioid crisis has affected families of all backgrounds. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's son, Max Barry, died because of an overdose of drugs, which included multiple opioids. She has spoken out to draw awareness. The response has been slow in coming, but a number of efforts to combat the problem are underway.


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