Criminal Justice Reform
Governor Lee’s Criminal Justice Task Force found that over the last decade, Tennessee maintained its high recidivism rate and grew its prison population by 12%. Corrections now cost the state over $1 billion annually. A documented and significant contributor to this increase includes mental illness and substance misuse.

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Naloxone, a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose, is crucial to fighting the opioid epidemic. Current state policies permit doctors and pharmacists to distribute naloxone (often in the nasal spray version known as Narcan) to the public on standing orders, with or without a prescription. Anyone who is or knows anyone at risk of an overdose can legally acquire this medication, and administer it to someone they reasonably believe has experienced an overdose. However, due to several factors, naloxone is not always as easy to obtain as might be expected.

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Health-related stigma is an individual’s experience of exclusion, rejection, and/or blame associated with a health condition. Stigma associated with opioid use disorder and other substance use disorder impacts the individual in several ways, including experienced discrimination from individuals and systems, as well as negative self-evaluation and shame.

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Telehealth presents an opportunity for improving access to treatment and recovery support for individuals afflicted with opioid use disorder. The opportunities were highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic in Tennessee.

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Youth Prevention
Prevention is a sound argument to avoid undesired consequences in the future. The familiar saying of An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure from Benjamin Franklin, also applies to prevention of substance misuse, especially in youth and young adults.

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