Possible legislation would limit opioids prescriptions in Tennessee

State Sen. Richard Briggs says he supports a plan to cut down the chances of people abusing opioids by making sure fewer pills are prescribed in the first place.

As Tennessee lawmakers discuss ways to address the opioid epidemic when they return to session next week, one plan that's circulating calls for helping curb abuse by putting a five-day limit on narcotic prescriptions after certain medical procedures.

The Knox County District Attorney General reports six suspected drug overdose deaths five days into 2018. Last year, 294 people died from suspected drug overdoses in Knox County.

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State Sen. Richard Briggs says he supports a plan to cut down the chances of people abusing opioids by making sure fewer pills are prescribed in the first place.

Briggs said Gov. Bill Haslam met with state lawmakers in December to put together a package of legislation aimed at stopping the opioid crisis.

One part of that plan will deal with how many pills go home with patients by cutting down prescriptions after dental surgeries, sprains or broken bones.

"We're not talking about people that are on chronic pain medicines, we're not talking about people with pain medicine because of cancer," Briggs said.

MORE: East Tennessee lawmakers hope to impact opioid crisis through legislation

By cutting down the number of pills in rotation, lawmakers believe you cut down the number of addicts in Tennessee.

"Just so we don't have so many pills out there sitting in medicine cabinets that could be stolen or abused by family members or others," Briggs said.

As a surgeon with 35 years of experience, Briggs has seen first hand the impact of the opioid crisis.

He already keeps a tight limit on the number of pills he prescribes.

"I personally give about five days of prescription medicine right now for open heart surgery," he said.

In a statement, the governor's office said no specifics of the legislative agenda have been released, but "the governor will work with the legislative session to find solutions to the opioid crisis in our state."

While Briggs supports the proposal, he also expects pushback.

"Doctors, dentists and the people who prescribe these medicines in general don't like being told what to do," he said.

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Briggs believes the key to success will be education and making sure everyone involved is on the same page.

"I think there's going have to be some education and we do not want people who need their medicines to not be able to get them," he said.