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'People are dying' | McNabb Center hoped to open new rehab center before backlash from South Knoxville neighbors

According to data from the District Attorney's Office, more than 500 people died of a suspected drug-related overdose in 2022 in Knox County.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In 2022, more than 500 people died in Knox County due to a possible drug overdose, according to data from the District Attorney's Office. To save lives, the McNabb Center said they were hoping to open a new rehabilitation center in South Knoxville.

They were going to buy the South High Senior Living facility, but no longer plan on buying it after hearing community input. It wouldn't have been the first time that the McNabb Center opened a similar rehabilitation center in a neighborhood. This one could have served thousands of people trying to overcome substance misuse.

Jennifer Muise-Hill is the Senior Director of Adults Substance Use Treatment at McNabb Center. She said misconceptions about chronic medical issues like substance misuse can keep them from helping people.

"People are dying on a daily basis, and we want to be able to respond to that," she said. "I understand there is still a significant amount of fear and stigma that surrounds substance use disorders, I think it's really misunderstood in a lot of ways."

She said the McNabb Center already has treatment centers across East Tennessee, and neighbors around them largely have not reported issues. One treatment center is near Halls Elementary School — the Knoxville Recovery Center.

Bearden High School, Pond Gap Elementary School and Farragut Middle School are also all within a six-minute walk from an addiction recovery center. The McNabb Center said no major issues have been reported involving those schools and the recovery centers.

"As community members, we should be there to support those around us who are suffering, and who need help," said Muise-Hill. "It goes back to compassion, and showing compassion for your fellow neighbor."

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