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Opioid Crisis Declared a National Emergency

| August 15, 2017

On August 10th, President Trump announced that the opioid epidemic had risen to the level of a national emergency.  In making his remarks, President Trump vowed to “spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”  He aptly characterized the crisis as “a serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”

To many of us living in states like Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, or West Virginia, that have been hit hard by opioid addiction, this crisis has been ongoing. Most of us, if not all, know someone whose life has been destroyed by the scourge of this epidemic.

How has Tennessee been impacted?  In 2015, there were 1,451 fatal drug overdoses in The Volunteer State.  Of these fatalities, 71% (1,034) of the overdose deaths were attributed to opioids, which is an increase from 64% in 2012.  Approximately 20% of the opioid overdose fatalities were specifically attributed to heroine. Tennessee experienced a 91% increase in the death rate for synthetic opioid abuse between 2014 and 2105, and 44 % increase for heroin.  These increases are significantly higher than the national average, which were 72% and 21% respectively.

Thus, suffice it to say, the President’s acknowledgement of the severity of the opioid epidemic and his pledge for support brings with it a welcome sign that we may finally stem the tide in Tennessee and across the country.

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JULIE WARREN is a graduate of Marshall University and of Regent University School of Law. She also attended Georgetown Law Center as a visiting student. While in law school, she clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Julie served four years at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. After a few years in private practice as a civil defense litigator, Julie returned to public service and began her work in the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General where she primarily served as an appellate advocate for the State of West Virginia and as legislative counsel to the Attorney General.

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