Responding to the growing opioid abuse crisis in East Tennessee, reportedly one of the 12 worst multi-county regions of abuse nationally, Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce has formed a panel that has tackled this problem from different professional perspectives.
Packaged as part of FWKCC quarterly Breakfast Speaker Series, this panel discussion begins at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 22, in Fox Den Country Club main ballroom.
Panelists are state Sen. Richard Briggs [R-7th District including Farragut and Concord] who also is a heart surgeon; Charme Allen, Knox County District Attorney; Lee Tramel, Knox County Sheriff’s Office chief of Administration, and Karen Pershing, Metro Drug Coalition executive director.
“The key to ending this epidemic is through education of all demographics in our area. We can all do something to be part of the solution, but we can’t do it unless we are aware and educated on strategies to help reduce the potential to develop substance use disorders,” Pershing said. “I am looking forward to sharing business strategies with Chamber members, as well as what we can all do as members of this community.
“Although laws and policies can help with some aspects, I truly believe solutions are local,” Pershing added. “The human and economic costs of addictive disease are far to great to be ignored.”
“I am eager to participate in the upcoming panel because our community’s opioid crisis is my top concern,” Allen said. “More than 90 percent of our cases are directly tied to drug abuse. It is imperative for us to work together as a community to combat this epidemic. We need a three-prong approach of creating and supporting prevention, treatment and prosecution efforts.”
“This particular issue is something that has been brewing for quite a long time,” Julie Blaylock, FWKCC CEO/president, said, “based on statistics from the Knox County Medical Examiner’s report. This is data they’ve been tracking since 2010.
“I think that now, especially, with the national attention East Tennessee is getting, I think that it’s important that we continue the lines of discussion and open communication about it because if we stop talking about it, the issue is not going to get any better,” she added.
“Each one of these panelist has direct experience with this issue and has seen it developing. And so, I think that it is going to be really fascinating and important for people not only to hear updates from them on what actions they’re taking, but also have the opportunity to ask questions.”
The panel will field questions following the discussion, which will be led by Lauren Davis, news anchor with WVLT-TV Channel 8, who will serve as moderator.
A few tickets remained at press deadline Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 15. Cost is $30 for business members, $40 for non-members and $275 for a table of 10. Breakfast is included.
To purchase tickets, register online at www.farragutchamber.com by clicking the “events” tab to find the registration page.
“And for the general public as well as for the business members, I think that this is a unique opportunity for them to have an audience with the individuals in this area who have a dog in the fight,” Blaylock said, “and are going to be at the forefront of possibly changing legislation on the state and local levels.”
About special considerations for local youth, Blaylock said, “We do offer a special $15 student ticket; that’s for high school students, college students, anyone’s who’s in school. They just have to show us proof [with school ID.
“We wanted to make these kinds of forums accessible to them so that they can better understand what’s going on in their community and the issues they’re going to be facing over the next couple of years,” Blaylock added.
As for proceeds, “A portion of these registration [fees] is going to Metro Drug Coalition,” Blaylock said.
“And for the general public as well as for the business members, I think that this is a unique opportunity for them to have an audience with the individuals in this area who have a dog in the fight,” Blaylock said, “and are going to be at the forefront of possibly changing legislation on the state and local levels to address the issue.”