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Binge Drinking Growing Less Popular with TN Teens

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; September 22, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Fewer teens and pre-teens in Tennessee are abusing alcohol, according to the findings of a five-year prevention effort. The emphasis was on changing community attitudes and behaviors and the risks of having five or more drinks on one occasion.

Lead by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), the state’s efforts achieved reductions in binge drinking well beyond the national average. During a period from 2009 – 2013, the statewide rate of binge drinking teens, between the ages of 14 and 17, dropped nearly 16%. In the 18 to 25 age range, the decrease was more than 5%.

“Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). “The reduction in binge drinking speaks to a concerted effort by anti-drug community coalitions in the state, treatment providers, families, and young people themselves.”

Drop in binge drinking reduces alcohol-related incidents

Along with getting more young people in Tennessee to stop binge drinking, a second goal was achieved in reducing the often tragic consequences when teens and pre-teens drink to intoxication. Rates of young people driving drunk, getting arrested, being involved in fatal car accidents and other alcohol related offenses went down.

  • Alcohol Related Arrests down 25%
  • Juvenile DUI Arrests down 24%
  • Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities down 14%
  • Driving While Intoxicated down 14%
  • Riding With a Driver Who was Drinking down 11%

“Consuming significant amounts of alcohol can put anyone in danger of harm to themselves and others,” said Commissioner Varney. “Young people are especially at risk. I’m so glad to see how prevention efforts are working to encourage young people to avoid binge drinking and keeping them out of danger and from possible death.”

Varney: More Tennesseans Seeking Help for Popping Pills than Abusing Alcohol

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services; August 28, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Abuse of prescription opioids, ie: pain medications, is the number one drug problem for Tennesseans receiving publicly funded assistance for treatment services. Over the past decade, substance abuse admissions for prescription drugs like: hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone have increased 500%.

The situation has dramatically driven admissions to treatment facilities way up, from 764 in 2001 to 3,828 admissions in 2011.

“As of July 1, 2012, the number of admissions in our state for prescription drug abuse exceeded admissions for alcohol abuse for the first time in history,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS).

According to a 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 4% of Tennessean’s over the age of 18 and approximately 12% of 18 to 25 year olds reported using pain relievers recreationally in the past year.

“Many people needing substance abuse treatment are not getting the help they need,” said Commissioner Varney. “And of the number of Tennesseans who could benefit from treatment, only about one person in eight actually received it.”

Treatment is effective and saves money

Substance abuse treatment offers both a benefit to those who receive it and a savings to communities.

“The greatest savings is a reduction in the cost of crime for law enforcement, general healthcare costs, court and victimization costs and increased employer earnings,” said Commissioner Varney. “And the gain can also be measured in lives saved from a premature death.”

In 2010, Tennessee’s 1,059 recorded drug-overdose deaths add up to an estimated 7,000 years of life lost, and a loss of earnings of approximately $238 million.

“We all pay a price when someone needing substance abuse treatment doesn’t get the help they need,” said Commissioner Varney.

During the months of June, July and August the TDMHSAS has put the spotlight on the serious epidemic of prescription drug use through the roll out of Prescription for Success: Statewide Strategies to Prevent and Treat the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic in Tennessee.

Witnesses Announced for Mid-Sept Criminal Justice Reform Hearing

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; August 26, 2014:

(NASHVILLE, TN) August 26, 2014 – Senator Brian Kelsey today released the names of the witnesses scheduled to testify regarding proposed criminal justice reforms in Tennessee. The hearing will occur before the Senate Judiciary Committee September 15 – 16.

“These experts will help us learn from other states how to best protect the public while saving taxpayer dollars. Our committee is privileged to partner with such talented witnesses in the effort to improve the criminal justice system in Tennessee,” explained Senator Kelsey.

The witnesses will provide testimony on the following three subjects: 1) Criminal Justice Reform: How we got where we are in Tennessee, 2) Criminal Justice Reform: What other states have done, and 3) Criminal Justice Reform: Suggested changes for Tennessee.

The scheduled witnesses for the hearings are as follows:

  • Sheriff Robert Arnold, Rutherford County
  • Beth Ashe, Executive Director, Tennessee Corrections Institute
  • Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper
  • District Attorney General D. Michael Dunavant, 25th Judicial District, Fayette, Hardeman, Lauderdale, McNairy, and Tipton Counties
  • Paige Edwards, Tennessee Public Defender’s Conference
  • Rebecca Silber and Nancy Fishman, VERA Institute of Justice
  • Tommy Francis, Tennessee State Employees Association
  • Mayor Terry Frank, Anderson County, Tennessee
  • Commissioner Bill Gibbons, Tennessee Department of Safety
  • Mark Gwyn, Director, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Marc Levin, Director, Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • Mayor Mark Luttrell, Shelby County, Tennessee
  • John G. Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies
  • Richard Montgomery, Chairman, Tennessee Board of Parole
  • Justin Owen, President/CEO, Beacon Center of Tennessee
  • Chief David Rausch, Knoxville Police Department
  • David Raybin, Esq., criminal defense attorney
  • Justyna Scalpone, Tennessee Office of the Post-Conviction Defender
  • Commissioner Derrick D. Schofield, Tennessee Department of Correction
  • Chris Slobogin, Professor, Vanderbilt College of Law; member, Tennessee Consultation on Criminal Justice
  • District Attorney General Barry Staubus, 2nd Judicial District, Sullivan County, Tennessee
  • Thomas E. Tique, Chief Deputy Attorney, Tennessee General Assembly Office of Legal Services
  • Commissioner E. Douglas Varney, Tennessee Department of Mental Health
  • Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director, ACLU of Tennessee
  • Charlie White, Director, Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents
  • Judge John Everett Williams, Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals

Senator Kelsey represents Cordova, East Memphis, and Germantown. He is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.