TBI weighs in on Gov. Haslam's statewide opioid plan - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TBI weighs in on Gov. Haslam's statewide opioid plan

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TENNESSEE (WRCB) -

As the nation tries to tackle the opioid epidemic, Tennessee officials say Governor Haslam's 10 point plan is a step in the right direction. 

The governor announced the TN Together plan Monday afternoon. It focuses on prevention, treatment and law enforcement. 

READ MORE | UPDATE: Haslam announces new aggressive, state-wide opioid plan?

The law enforcement component includes the TBI's Dangerous Drug Task Force. Director, Tommy Farmer says this is a decades-long problem that will take time and a change in the culture to overcome. 

"We didn't get into it overnight and we're not going to get out of it overnight," said Farmer. 

The opioid epidemic continues to sweep the nation, and Farmer says they've seen new trends that have to be stopped. 

"I think we've made a substantial amount of progress in the last few years, but it is still a huge problem. It's going to transition into drug market and that's exactly what we're seeing now." 

But how do you stop the epidemic for good? 

"You hear a lot of folks say well you can't arrest your way out of the problem, but I promise you law enforcement knows that; we recognized that in fact a very very long time ago," said Farmer. 

Farmer says offering more treatment services is key, but it won't help long term. It's why he says prevention education to children has to be included. 

"There's no question that the children are definitely dealing with this on a daily basis and yes, unfortunately, law enforcement definitely sees that," said Farmer. "Educating those children and changing the culture so that their perspective change about the way we not only a dress or deal with pain but the way we also deal with and address treatment." 

These are focus points Farmer says he was proud to see included in Haslam's statewide opioid plan. However, he hopes adding more TBI drug agents and funding for the Dangerous Drug Task Force will be recommended. 

"Those are critical in not only supporting the efforts here in our community but also supporting the efforts of the state and local guys and the local agencies across the state." 

The plan is one of Haslam's last major priorities in his final annual legislative session before leaving office next January. 

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