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Tennessee Lawmakers Fight State Opioid Crisis

Posted at 6:13 PM, Feb 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-09 21:40:17-05

Emotional testimony launched the first meeting of a new statewide opioid task force to begin learning how the state might curb addiction and deaths attributed to the drug.

"My daughter went for a routine surgery," Dr. Danny Davis told a panel of lawmakers. "i didn't realize how bad it was."

Davis' daughter Jaime became hooked on prescription opioids after one surgery. She was in and out of rehabs for the following five years.

After her final round of treatment, Davis moved his daughter to Colorado, where she had asked to start over.

"She didn't want to be home, where her dealers were," Davis said. "I shouldn't have agreed, but I did."

Davis dropped his daughter off on a Monday. She died that Saturday. His story is not unique.

In 2015, roughly 1,400 Tennesseans died from opioid addiction, 200 more than the year before. There are more opioid prescriptions in the state than there are people. And treating babies born addicted to the drug is costing the state millions.

Those are only a handful of reason Speaker Beth Harwell called for the task force to form.

The panel of seven lawmakers will meet regularly to explore education and prevention initiatives the state may eventually support.