Substance misuse is a serious health issue with implications for businesses throughout Knox County. Business owners and leaders must contend with the fact that some of their staff are likely in active use. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70% of illicit drug users are currently employed. Offering drug education and recovery supports in the workplace reduces turnover and improves productivity. State-level services such as Jobs4TN can help businesses tap into talent among people in recovery and those re-entering the workforce after incarceration.
As overdose and substance misuse take a heavy toll on families and communities in Knox County, communities of faith can help. There are resources at the local and state levels to help congregations become certified supporters of recovery. Faith-based recovery programs in Knox County such as Renew Clinic and Lazarus House open the door to structured, faith-centered addiction support.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase a person's risk for many different health issues, including substance use disorder. Supportive relationships and positive childhood experiences help reduce risk and improve outcomes. Parents can take advantage of brain-building apps and tools from Resilient TN, and educators can check out Metro Drug Coalition's curriculum resources. Not a parent, but still want to contribute? Become a youth mentor and provide additional support in a child's life.
Medical professionals have a unique role in our community's response to substance misuse. Patients may confide their struggles with substance misuse to their provider, and for patients in active, chaotic drug use, the emergency department may be their only touchpoint with official systems that could help them toward recovery. Medical providers can screen patients for substance use disorder (SUD), connect pregnant patients with SUD with treatment options, and explore possibilities around recovery navigation and medication-assisted treatment in emergency settings.
Between 2017 and 2021, Naloxone was deployed by Knox County first responders 7,786 times. As opioid misuse continues to impact our community, emergency responders are faced with the unique challenges of safely responding to calls where they may come into contact with illicit drugs. Even when responders do not know the specific characteristics of any substances found while on duty, there are several general practices suitable for all emergency responders.