NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Overdose deaths hit a record high nationwide in November and now the Prevention Alliance of Tennessee, which focuses on drug-related death prevention, has received the funding they have been asking lawmakers for so they could form new anti-drug coalitions in this state.
Brian Sullivan, an executive with the Prevention Alliance, said the grant money from the state is a glimmer of hope.
"It's a concentrated effort from our CEO Stephanie Strutner, who has been working with lawmakers gathering data to present to the state to get us this funding," said Sullivan.
$500,000 will be allocated to the Prevention Alliance to stop addiction and overdose deaths before they can happen.
"We know that there is a problem, we know that our opioid addiction in the state is outpacing federal and state funding,” said Sullivan.
In the last year, Tennessee overdose deaths have doubled and Georgia has had a 36 percent increase.
The Prevention Alliance currently has 61 anti-drug collations out of 95 counties. The new funding will allow Tennessee to form at least eight new anti-drug coalitions.
"We prepare for the influx of drugs that we anticipate coming into the state, we educate people about them, warn them on the dangers of them, and try our best to keep them from turning to a substance,” said Sullivan.
Substance abuse prevention, specifically in teens and young adults is critical, he said.
"See it in this way — you can't save someone who is dead,” said Sullivan.
Brian was a victim of an opioid overdose. He said he lost his sense of identity after being forced into conversion therapy. He felt he had no way out.
"I thought that I was in a dark space where was no hope,” he said.
He said surviving gave him a second chance at life and added those in that same dark space need to have hope so they can keep moving forward, substance-free. This is where the Prevention Alliance of Tennessee steps in to educate and provide resources among other things.
"We live in a society where it's almost you feel like you can't ask someone for help until you are standing on the ledge ready to jump," he said. "It's not a way to live."
He urges anyone wanting to start an anti-drug collation to apply to help save lives, and stop the overdose crisis.
The deadline to apply is December 17 at midnight CST. You can click here to send an email.