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Local Leaders Unveil New Plan to Curb the Opioid Epidemic in Knox County

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — By September 2023, the city of Knoxville and Knox County want to decrease the number of overdose deaths by 10-percent.

They also hope to reduce the number of nonfatal overdoses by five percent and increase the use of existing resources to obtain help by 20 percent.

That's according to the new Knox County Substance Misuse Response Strategic Plan Roadmap released Friday at the All4Knox summit.

"We need to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic," Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero told a group of about 400 people. "We are here to prevent and minimize the effects of substance misuse."

In order to do that, the plan identifies nine community sectors set forth by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Those sectors are business, education, faith-based communities, family/community, government, health care professionals, justice systems, non-profit/service organizations and treatment/recovery harm reduction.

Each community sector, according to the plan, will develop strategies on how they can help reduce and prevent substance misuse in Knox County.

By increasing coordination and engagement among sectors, community leaders hope to reduce the stigma around substance misuse and help the thousands of individuals affected by the opioid crisis.

"Collective impact requires a commitment over time," Metro Drug Coalition executive director Karen Pershing said. "There's a lot of great work in our community: this allows us to align with that and continue building on it."

Individual sector strategies will be developed over the next year, beginning with breakout sessions at Friday's All4Knox summit. Between September 2020 and September 2023, they hope to see results.

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