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Knox County leaders endorse plan to treat substance abuse and addiction

Leaders endorsed the "All4Knox" plan on Wednesday, which is meant to prevent, treat and help people recover from substance abuse.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox County and Knoxville leaders endorsed a new plan to prevent, treat and help people recover from substance abuse on Wednesday — the "All4Knox" plan.

In the plan, officials said that 293 people died due to overdoses in 2019 and that early data shows that drug-related deaths are up in 2020. They also said that they are worried about other deaths related to alcohol, substance misuse and co-occurring disorders.

The plan seeks to create community-level changes and develop coordinated responses to better address substance abuse in Knox County. Early in its development, officials identified 9 community sectors to work with: business, education, faith-based communities, families, government, health care professionals, justice systems, non-profit organizations and harm reduction.

Six year-one priority topics were also identified, which officials used to create implementation teams. They said they will not rely on using the identified sectors as much, as the implementation teams work on specific goals. Teams include: 

  • Prevention and Education (Stigma)
  • Standardization of Practice
  • Access to Treatment
  • Housing
  • Judicial Diversion
  • Recovery Support

Substance misuse is a community-wide issue that requires a community-wide effort. Thanks to everyone who has worked on...

Posted by City of Knoxville - Government on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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"Addiction is a chronic, relapsing illness requiring comprehensive approaches," officials said in the plan. "Every person in our community has a role to play and can individually and collectively create change."

They said that they plan to develop new partnerships over time, which may increase the amount of attention the problem receives and the number of people involved in solving it.

They also said that as the community's awareness of substance abuse increased, there may be less stigma associated with it, encouraging more people to seek help.

Officials also noted that around half of people with substance use disorders also have a co-occurring mental health diagnosis. They also said that people with substance use disorders have around 10-14 times greater risk of suicide.

Officials said that the plan is a working document that may be changed as new collaborators join the initiative to treat and prevent substance abuse. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they said All4Knox stopped meeting between April and August, and work since then was done virtually.