The SMART Policy Network periodically publishes research findings, data and best practices in the form of policy briefs.

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Youth Prevention

Preventing Youth Substance Misuse in Tennessee

Adolescent substance misuse and its consequences continue to be a challenge in Tennessee communities. To address the problem of substance misuse in Tennessee’s youth and young adults, it is helpful to look at how widespread the issue is; what factors contribute to use; and how it affects communities, families, and individuals. This brief highlights the nature of the youth substance misuse problem in Tennessee and provides recommendations on how the state can move forward with further investments to help address youth substance use prevention.

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October 2021


Better Broadband for Better Health

Broadband access is increasingly seen as a “super-determinant” of health, affecting not only healthcare delivery but educational and employment opportunities. When it comes to the treatment of substance use disorder (SUD), telehealth directly addresses the most common access barriers faced by rural patients. However, telehealth is not being utilized in rural areas as much as it could be, due to a lack of broadband internet access and affordability.

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UPDATE: Public Broadband is Coming to Knoxville

At the end of June, 2021, Knoxville City Council voted in favor of the public broadband plan proposed by Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB).  Over the next ten years, KUB will lay fiber optic cable and begin offering public broadband internet as a fifth utility.

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March 2021


The Cost of Stigma

Substance Use Disorder (SUD), formerly known as addiction or substance abuse, is a treatable medical condition, but fewer than 1 in 10 Tennesseans with SUD receive treatment. Stigma can lead to a view of those with SUD as weak-willed, unmotivated, and unlikely to recover. However, the reality is that about 60% of people with SUD experience full remission. Treatment is also fiscally sound: every $1 spent on evidence-based treatment for SUD saves $12 in healthcare and criminal justice costs.

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August 2021

Criminal Justice Reform

Substance Misuse and Incarceration in Tennessee

Corrections in Tennessee cost over $1 billion annually due to a rising incarceration rate. The state’s increasing incarceration rate is related to the growth in substance misuse which on its own costs Tennessee $2 billion each year and leads to over $1 billion in lost income from a shrinking work force. Prioritizing evidence-based treatment that targets the underlying medical and behavioral issues driving addictive habits for justice-involved individuals could simultaneously address rising recidivism, reincarceration, and growing substance misuse.

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May 2021


Telehealth Improves Access to Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

About 400,000 Tennesseans have substance use disorder (SUD). Only 1 in 10 Tennesseans who need treatment for SUD obtain it, mainly due to local provider shortages, long distances between a small number of treatment centers, stigma and cost. Telehealth directly addresses barriers and improves access to care.

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January 2021



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