“Recovery Courts” to Combat Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in Tennessee

Nine “recovery courts” will be created in Tennessee to combat substance abuse and mental health issues, state officials announced this week. They will combine services currently found in drug courts, mental health courts and veterans courts.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance abuse Services said the new courts will serve juvenile and adult addicted nonviolent offenders, whose participation will be voluntary, according to the Associated Press.

“We are facing a major prescription drug problem in our state,” Department Commissioner Douglas Varney said in a news release. “We need to focus all of our resources in the most efficient, effective and collaborative way to maximize our impact on this issue and drug abuse overall. And because so many people who are dealing with a substance abuse issue also have a mental health issue … these recovery courts will be able to help them get all the help that they need at one time and in one location.”

The new courts will incorporate intensive judicial supervision, treatment services, sanctions and incentives, the article notes. State officials said that while these courts often exist separately in other states, Tennessee will integrate them “in an effort to combine similar issues of mental health, substance abuse, and veterans affairs in one location and to best utilize the available funds.”

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    Zac Talbott, Director | NAMA Recovery TN

    May 8, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    I can only HOPE that these new “Recovery Courts” will include truly evidence-based treatments like recovery-oriented medication assisted treatments for opioid addiction. Why the State of TN has long ignored what the National Institutes of Health referred to as the “gold standard” for the treatment of opioid addiction in their Consensus Panel on Effective Medical Treatment of Opioid Addiction defies logic. If the State of Tennessee truly wants to deal with the opioid (pain pill and/or heroin) addiction epidemic in a truly effective way, access to and the availability of evidence-based treatments, like medication-assisted treatment with methadone or buprenorphine, must be expanded and supported. If TN officials continue to uplift personal biases instead of science and 40+ years of medical research, then cracking down on prescription pain medications won’t do anything except usher in an even bigger, less regulatable heroin epidemic.

    NAMA Recovery of Tennessee is willing to work with the State of Tennessee on this epidemic if Commissioner Varney is willing to put science and effective treatments first.

    Zac Talbott | Director
    NAMA Recovery of Tennessee
    National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery
    “Together we can make a difference!”

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