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Opioid addiction is costly to our community

Johnson City Press • Jul 31, 2016 at 12:00 AM

Opioid drug abuse has become a pervasive and costly epidemic in Tennessee. Authorities say this state ranks third in the nation for prescription drug abuse and 12th in the nation for deaths resulting from drug overdose.

Opioid drug abuse is not just a law enforcement issue or public health problem. It is also an economic problem that robs employers of a sober and reliable workforce. Prescription drug addiction costs Tennesseans millions of dollars annually in inflated health care bills and crowded emergency rooms.

This region is ground zero for the opioid problem in Tennessee. There are few communities in our area that haven’t been touched by this epidemic in one way or another. The victims are our neighbors. They are members of our families. They are our best friends.

And they may even be our own physicians.

In today’s paper, Press Staff Writer Zach Vance brings you Dr. Stephen Loyd’s story of how he found himself addicted to opioids 12 years ago and his long journey to recovery. Today, Dr. Loyd is a nationally known speaker on opioid addiction.

His story has helped others to cope with this very serious disease.

In the next few days, we will be bringing you stories about others in our area who are struggling with addiction.

We will also tell you about the treatments being used to break the shackles of opioid abuse. In particular, we will take a close look at one of the most controversial — methadone treatment.

And we will be bringing you details of a proposed drug addiction treatment clinic to be operated jointly by East Tennessee State University and Mountain States Health Alliance.

Its proposed location in Gray has been met with opposition from that community and has launched a serious debate over the logic of using methadone and other drugs to treat opioid addiction.

We understand why the residents of Gray wouldn’t want a treatment facility in their back yard, but this is a problem that affects every neighborhood in our region

Unquestionably, an addiction treatment facility is needed and it has to be placed in someone’s back yard.

The clinic should be located in a place that maximizes care to patients and minimizes harm to neighbors. This is to be a regional treatment center, and as officials with ETSU and MSHA have explained, the Gray site is an ideal location for it.

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