The Bridge, a local nonprofit organization, is trying to get illegal drugs off the street and stress to youth the ease and dangers in overdosing on these drugs.
Chairman Scott Elam and Executive Director Reba Terry, along with District Attorney General Steve Crump, spoke to the Sunrise Rotary Club Thursday, and presented information on the increase of overdoses, primarily with opioids.
Crump mentioned a lawsuit filed by DAs in East Tennessee against opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma L.P. and its related companies, along with Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
The lawsuit also names two additional plaintiffs known collectively as Baby Doe by and through their Guardians Ad Litem. Additional defendants named in the filing include the (now-dissolved) Tennessee Pain Institute, two former TPI employees and a convicted drug dealer.
The Bridge isn’t one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but that doesn’t mean the organization is any less concerned on the overdose problem.
Elam said the problem needs to be addressed with children as young as middle school students, and the Bridge attempts to make connections with the boys and girls. They are not alone.
“That is why it is called ‘The Bridge.'” he said. “We are trying to break down the silos and build bridges with the organizations that are also working at addressing the problem early, with children.”
Elam and Terry presented statistics in a The Bridge publication that showed teenagers are the highest users of illegal drugs.
“Ninety percent of addictions start in the teenage years, 1 in 6 teens have used medications to get high, and 27 percent believe that using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs to get high,” The Bridge information noted.
“Any of these drugs are dangerous, and we want to work at informing these teenagers of those dangers,” Elam said.
The Bridge has a crisis text line as part of its official telephone number (1-423-464-4600). The crisis text line is accessible by calling the main number, the putting in the number, when asked, of 741741.
“If you have problems or have friends or family members who are in trouble, and have the possibility of overdosing,” contact The Bridge,” Elam said.