painkillers | Nashville Public Radio


courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Veterans Affairs hospitals are taking a page from the pharmaceutical playbook — and reversing it. They've hired what are effectively 285 drug company representatives across the country, including one for every VA hospital in Tennessee and Kentucky. But instead of encouraging physicians to prescribe, they're often counseling doctors against giving their patients opioids.

Jennifer Clampet / Army Medicine via Flickr

Researchers are turning to Tennessee to find a middle ground on the use of opioids for treating chronic pain. A new study is recruiting 1,000 patients in Tennessee and North Carolina who are taking opioids for chronic pain — a move that comes at a time of conflicting opinions about whether addictive narcotics should even be used to treat long-term pain, unless it's cancer-related.

David Goehring / via Flickr

TennCare has tightened controls on opioid prescriptions in recent years, and the state's Medicaid program plans to go a step further next year. It's an effort to decrease the use of highly addictive narcotics — and save some money.

Blake Farmer / WPLN (File photo)

Tennessee is getting $6 million to fund addiction treatment primarily for the state's uninsured. The money will be targeted at six counties, including Davidson.

Wheeler Cowperthwaite / via Flickr Creative Commons

The combining of powerful drugs — both purposeful and unintentional — is making Tennessee’s opioid epidemic even more deadly. The latest figures out this month show 2016 was another record year for overdoses in the state — more than 1,600 people died. And experts say risky drug cocktails are compounding the problem.

coutresy Scott DesJarlais via Twitter

Congressman Scott DesJarlais wants a crackdown on patients who share pills. The Republican who represents Murfreesboro was once a doctor himself.

Blake Farmer / WPLN (File photo)

New public health research confirms what Tennessee has known for years: The number of drug-dependent newborns is growing fastest in rural areas.

David Quitoriano / via Flickr

Tiffany Hall of Johnson City, Tenn., has been on both sides of the glass in the neonatal intensive care unit — first as a nurse, then as a mother.

“I worked with the babies born into addiction. I knew what could happen. I knew what was going to happen," Hall says.

courtesy Tennessee Overdose Prevention

Drug overdose deaths have hit an all-time high in Tennessee, despite a focus in recent years on preventing pain pill abuse. Opioids — including heroin — are to blame for nearly three-quarters of the fatalities.

via Flickr Creative Commons

A rash of drug overdoses in Murfreesboro this summer has resulted in a round of federal indictments. A total of seven people are charged with selling drugs that resulted in death.