Recovery is Real.

Substance Abuse/Addiction Treatment in Tennessee

Tennessee is in the midst of a serious substance abuse epidemic that has led to devastating outcomes to families, communities, and our great state.  In Tennessee, more people than ever are dependent on or addicted to drugs. Governor Haslam and the General Assembly should be commended for their efforts to address the issue of prescription drug abuse with the passage of various legislative acts including the Prescription Safety Act of 2012 and the endorsement of “Prescription For Success“-- a strategic initiative developed by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) and other state departments which outlines statewide strategies to address Tennessee’s prescription drug abuse epidemic.  Both of these efforts are a fantastic first step, but they are not enough. A comprehensive approach that includes funding for addiction prevention and treatment must be a part of the solution to solving the drug abuse epidemic.

Economic Benefits of Investment in Treatment

Research shows that every dollar spent on substance abuse treatment saves $4 in healthcare costs and $7 in law enforcement and other criminal justice costs. On average, substance abuse treatment costs $1,583 per person and is associated with a cost offset of $11,487, representing a greater than 7:1 ratio of benefits to costs.

So What Can We Do?

The legislative efforts to date must now be supported with recurring dollars to provide treatment services. We understand the political realities of the Tennessee budget. However, we firmly believe that we must begin to provide targeted treatment funding. We would encourage the administration and the General Assembly to appropriate $14 million of recurring state dollars into the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to significantly increase access to treatment for adults, and in future years, access for youth.

These actions will afford better access to treatment services statewide, as well as a reduction in the spending in other departments like Corrections (by reducing incarceration), Department of Children Services (by reducing number of minors who go into state custody because of parental drug abuse) and ultimately make our communities safer and healthier.